Gender Differences in South African Generation Y Students’ Motives for Engaging in Physical Activity

Natanya Meyer, Ayesha Lian Bevan-Dye


Whilst the literature provides significant evidence of the benefits of engaging in physical activity and its influence on reducing certain dreaded illnesses, there are indications that the levels of physical activity amongst the youth are declining globally. The Generation Y cohort comprises individuals born between 1986 and 2005, and in 2013, this cohort made up an estimated 38 percent of the South African population. As today’s youth, this cohort’s physical and mental wellbeing has important current and future economic implications, not only to the country’s health care system but also to its labour market. Successfully encouraging members of this cohort to engage in physical activity necessitates having a clear understanding of their motives to participate in physical activity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether gender differences exist concerning Generation Y students’ motivation for participating in physical activity. A survey questionnaire that included the Exercise Motivation Inventory-2 (EMI-2) was administered on a sample of 450 students registered at the campuses of three higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. The captured data was analysed using descriptive statistics and a two-independent samples t-test. The findings suggest that Generation Y females are more motivated to engage in physical activity by the motives of health pressure, ill-health avoidance, positive health, weight management and appearance. In contrast, Generation Y males are more motivated to engage in physical activity by intrinsic motives such as enjoyment, challenge, competition, and strength and endurance.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n21p195

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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