Data Analysis of Public Health Parameters. Deriving Insights About Motivation for Physical Activities Through Supervised Machine Learning Techniques

Tsveta Toshkova Atanasova

Student thesis: Master thesis


Health care organizations are increasingly arousing concerns about the lack of physical activities, which eventually leads to a range of sedentary lifestyle diseases. One of the most cited reasons for lack of physical activities is motivation. This study considered motivation as a public health parameter, which if studied and applied in practise can promote physical activity and with this a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore how predictors of motivation for physical activities can be derived from social media texts, and which insights this investigation would provide for the promotion of healthier lifestyle. A systematic literature review of Self-Determination Theory and its application in the fields of physical activities and social media was conducted for the development of conceptual model of motivation. A total of 55259 social media texts from five Facebook pages and three online forums, discussing physical activities, collected for this investigation. Supervised machine learning were applied on the data by firstly manually coding a training set, and afterwards applying five text classification algorithms. The findings point that supervised text classification is an efficient method for deriving predictors of motivation from social media texts. Additionally, the results show consistent support that intrinsic motivation is most often associated with physical activities. Intrinsic motivation was also most often related to intrinsic goals and the needs of autonomy and competence. Intrinsic people were also most often related to open, conscience and agreeable personalities. The text classification also extracted valuable reflections on topics from the social texts. Among others, physical injuries, bodybuilding, advice seeking, and encouragement tips were the most often discussed topics. Based on these insights it was concluded that being present when people need support, turning extrinsically motivated into into intrinsically, and engaging on social media are appropriate guidelines for the promotion of motivation for physical activities, which practitioners, health care organisations or sport centres should take into account in order to stimulate healthier lifestyle

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages101
SupervisorsRaghava Rao Mukkamala