Lessons from self-determination interventions to promote physical activity: A narrative review (2011-2016)

Saul Alcaraz, Joan Pons, Ariadna Angulo-Brunet, Jaume Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the present study is to review recent interventions aimed at promoting physical activity using self-determination theory (SDT) framework. We present evidence-based proposals that researchers could find useful to develop their own interventions. Our narrative review includes journal articles published between 2011 that meet the following inclusion criteria: (a) using SDT as reference framework, (b) targeting healthy participants with age ≥ 12 years old, and (c) pursuing a main goal of promoting physical activity or related variables. Results are presented in three categories: (a) structure, theoretical approach and general aspects of the intervention, (b) development, and (c) assessment. Regarding the structure, two types of interventions emerged: those conducted within an existing setting, where professionals in charge receive specific training that is expected to indirectly affect their students/patients; and interventions developed from zero, where participants receive direct training or information. Results showed that the most common background to develop SDT interventions is autonomy support and autonomy satisfaction. Concerning the development of the intervention, it appears essential to understand the needs of the target population and to develop tailored interventions that consider SDT not only as concepts to explain but also as a way of thinking that guides the development of the interventions. Regarding the assessment of the intervention, researchers could consider (a) using mixed-methods approach, (b) including objective and self-reported measures and (c) measuring participants' satisfaction with the intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
JournalRevista de Psicologia del Deporte
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Autonomy support
  • Exercise
  • Intervention program
  • Motivation
  • Physical activity
  • Psychological basic needs


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