Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT), this study aimed to examine the relationship between satisfying basic psychological needs when exercising and motivation for exercise. Participants (nmale = 324; nfemale = 379) were Japanese adults who completed a survey using a cross-sectional, non-experimental design. Bivariate correlations supported positive associations between satisfying each psychological need via exercise, and revealed that adjacent motivations spanning the self-determination continuum were more positively correlated in comparison to distal motivations. Multiple regression analyses by participant gender indicated that three basic psychological needs satisfaction via exercise predicted intrinsic motivation in men and women and identified regulation in the female subsample. Relatedness need satisfaction did not significantly contribute to predicting identified regulation in the male subsample. Limited support for the role of basic psychological need fulfillment was evident in the regression models related to controlled motivations or amotivation. Overall, the results of this study indicated that SDT could be employed to advance our understanding of the psychological mechanisms that shape exercise motivation in Japanese adults.
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