In the article Self-efficacy and perceived exertion of girls during exercise, the authors discuss the importance of regular physical activity and its relation to obesity and cardiovascular diseases (Pender, Bar-Or, Wilk, & Mitchell, 2002). According to the authors, the physical activity in youth has decreased dramatically during the last decades (Pender et al., 2002). In this study, the sample size (103 girls, 8-17 years old) were asked to assess their level of self-efficacy for a task that involved cycling (from 5 to 40 minutes of cycling). Peak oxygen uptake was also measured during the cycling task of each participant. According to the authors, all participants achieved peak oxygen uptake in the first testing session (Pender et al., 2002).
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The self-efficacy theory suggests that higher self-efficacy of an individual is frequently related to “less perception of effort in coping with a challenging task” (Pender et al., 2002, p. 90). At the same time, if girls had a greater perception of effort during the cycling task, it had a negative impact on their self-confidence. The authors of the study notice that additional reinforcement (positive feedback) after a successfully completed task increases perceived self-efficacy of the participants (Pender et al., 2002). Adolescent girls can be receptive to confidence-building exercise, which, in return, can increase their interest in physical activity. Such exercises should be viewed as behavioral interventions capable of promoting the active lifestyle and positive habits such as running, cycling, exercising, etc.
The limitations of the study were the lack of randomly selected participants and the testing environment that could have created social desirability bias. The authors conclude that interventions focused on “increasing exercise self-efficacy and enhancing positive responses” could be used in clinical or community settings if found effective (Pender et al., 2002, p. 90).
Pender, N. J., Bar-Or, O., Wilk, B., & Mitchell, S. (2002). Self-efficacy and perceived exertion of girls during exercise. Nursing Research, 51(2), 86-91.