College Students' Perceptions of Exercise and Physical Activity

Art Hoomiratana, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Poster Number: 28

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Lack of physical activity has been identified as one of the six priority health risk behaviors for college populations (Buckworth, 2001; Keating, 2005). Research has found that a large proportion of the undergraduate college students are not physically active (PA) (Leenders, et al., 2002). Further, research has shown that 51.7% of undergraduates failed to meet the recommended levels of PA (American College Health Association, 2012). Thus, the college setting is important for the development of physical activity behaviors and greatly influences quality of life in later years (Buckworth, 2001). The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of PA amongst college students. Undergraduate and graduate students (n=145) at a small liberal arts college in the Northeastern US completed a survey inquiring about their participation in exercise and PA in college. Results indicate that general health benefits, along with working to relieve stress ranked the highest as motivations for exercise. Participants who reported exercising more than 4 times per week ranked general enjoyment and mastering skills as greater motivators than those who exercised less than 4 times per week, while those who exercised less reported losing weight and socialization as primary motivators. Lack of time, energy, and general motivation were consistently reported as barriers to exercise. In addition, fear of injury and lack of access to facilities ranked higher as barriers as participants reported exercising more frequently. The results of this study confirm the limited though significant findings of common barriers to physical activity among the college student population (Buckworth & Nigg, 2004). Understanding the motivators and barriers to exercise in among college students will assist professionals in the promotion of exercise adherence and lifelong PA for physical and mental well-being. Practical applications for these findings will be discussed.

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