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Diab Thor

NFSC 429-02

Term Paper

8 May 2017
Physical activity among college students (motivators)

Abstract

In this study, students were examined by the motivators of physical activity (PA) among college

student. As college students, learning to balance life between school, work, personal life and

maintaining a good physical activity may be tough. Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and

completing the recommended daily physical activity are crucial in ones health now and the

future. The study is focused on students chosen according to their physical activity levels (A)

sedentary (B) once a week, (C) at least 60 mins a day for 4-6 times a week and (D) athlete.

Participants were chosen regardless of their age, gender, and ethnic background. Students

participated in a interview answering questions about their physical activity. It was found that

all 4 students agreed that health and an increase in energy were contributing motivators for

physical activity. They all agreed that tiredness does come into play, however physical activity

makes one feel good about oneself.

Introduction

With fast foods chains, little time as well as inactivity, it is an equation for disaster. Conditions

associated with physical inactivity include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, back pain, poor joint

mobility and psychosocial problems. Most adults are most likely to follow the same pattern of

inactivity if they grew up with little exercise. This means as an adult, whether you are a college
student or not, you are less likely to make an effort to obtain your daily recommended amount of

physical activity. In the long run, this will cause a huge effect on your health.

College students are an important population to examine because they are in transition between

youth and adult activity patterns. Students physical activity levels may impact on their eating

habits and consumption. A student is less likely to eat healthy if they hardly have time to squeeze

in physical activity. College students are the participants who are currently dealing with the most

things on their plates. They are juggling between school, life and work. This is the most crucial

point in ones life because they are in the process of choosing a career for the rest of their life. It

may also involve a significant other whom, they can chose whether or not to settle down. College

students at this point in life, has to learn between balancing their life with physical activity. This

research will show more of what does and doesnt influence college students to do physical

exercises.

Student perspectives about physical activity will be examined using four qualitative in

depth interviews of about 10-20 minutes each. Open-ended questions will ask about their

personal motivations/discouragements and their thoughts about physical activity. It is fully up to

the interviewee to share any information that they would like to. An interview guide will be used

to have a better understanding of college students.

The purpose of this research is to see what the motivation for college students to exercise

is. Every student has different mindset and some are more determined than others. This study is

conducted in order to better understand how some can balance time between life and physical

activity and some who uses excuses that they dont have time to work out. The research will

have a better grasp between the lives of college students and their motivation to stay healthy.

Literature Review
Physical inactivity is a major public health challenge in the developed world and is recognized as

a global epidemic (Allender 2006). With so little time throughout the day, college students are

struggling between school, life and work. These things can and may get in the way of students

daily physical activity. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of

moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. According to the website, the benefits of

physical activities are: develop healthy musculoskeletal tissues (i.e. bones, muscles and joints);

develop a healthy cardiovascular system (i.e. heart and lungs); develop neuromuscular awareness

(i.e. coordination and movement control); and maintain a healthy body weight. It is also

associated with psychological benefits in adults such as controlling anxiety and depression.

Physical activity creates healthy behaviors (e.g. avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and drug use) and

demonstrate higher academic performance at school. (Young 2015).

In the qualitative research by Steven Allender and Gill Cowburn, the results showed that adults

exercise for a sense of achievement, skill development and to spend luxury time on themselves

away from daily responsibilities. Non-exercisers recalled negative school experiences as reasons

for not participating into middle age. (Allender 2006). The enjoyment and social networks

offered by sport and physical activity are clearly important motivators for many different groups

of people aged between 18 and 50 years. Discouragements can be seen when they are supposed

to workout at a gym where they dont know anyone. Anxiety and lack of confidence about

entering unfamiliar settings such as gyms were the main barriers to participation in schemes. Not

knowing other people, poor body image and not fitting in with the gym culture were the prime

concerns for adults.

A research was conducted on college students by Brooke Harmon: Perceived influence and

college students diet and physical activity behaviors: an examination of ego-centric social
networks showed the important correlation between college students and PA. 41 % of young

adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported being enrolled in either a 2-year or 4-year College.

Transitioning away from home and attending college brings the potential for changes in lifestyle

behaviors and support systems. Moreover, college students in general have low physical activity

rates and poor dietary habits (Harmon 2016). Results gathered from the study showed that high

school friends were perceived as least influential to work out, especially among students who

moved a long distance for college. Intervention strategies addressing perceived norms and using

peer leaders may help promote physical activity among college students, while diet interventions

may need to involve significant others in order to be successful (Harmon 2016).

Methods

The study was based on four students purposively selected based on their physical

activity levels. Student A is someone who hardly ever exercise (sedentary, Student B works out

once a week, Student C workouts regularly (60 mins a day at least) for 4-6 times a week, and

Student D is an athlete. These four types were chosen to seek diversity in the motivation of a

broad range of physical activity. The purpose is understanding what motivates/influences

students to do physical activity. There is no discrimination against color, gender, race or sexual

orientation. Participants in the study were all female within 20-25 years old. Participants of this

research will be college level students. Results from the research does not justify for the whole

college group of students.

The method was completed through an interview and the participant had to answer

questions based off of their physical activity. We scheduled a time to sit together across from one

another and it was in an open/close area. Questions were asked and based on the response, it

would trigger a probe question in certain answers. This interview was an open time frame
meaning it took as long as the participant needed to answer the questions. Typically it was within

10-15 mins for the student to answer the questions.

The interview rights were read to the participant that it was for a research project for a

Nutrition class and the study is voluntary. The participants response will remain confidential and

they can stop at any time if they do not wish to continue. From there, a request to record the

interview was asked and approved.

Results

Motivation

Each student had multiple reasons as to why they participate in physical activity. All of the

students mentioned that health was a big factor in contributing to their decision to do exercise as

well as how energetic they felt by exercising. Student B explains that exercise is extremely

important because it affects ones health. Before the workout, I kind of dread going to the gym.

But afterwards, I feel energized and awake. It makes me feel better being in my body for some

reason. (Student B).

Working out is known to help contribute to building a stronger immune system as well as beating

depression. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These

endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. This is why when

students feel stronger and have an increase of energy. In a way, working out makes them feel

good about themselves therefore it leads to motivation to workout. Based on Table 1A, all the

students agreed that energy and health are motivators.

Table 1A
Student A Student B Student C Student D
Motivation

Health X X X X

Stronger XX X X

Energy X X XX XX

No motivation X XX

Tiredness XXX X X X

Self-worth

Feels good X X XXXXX XX

Better ones self XX XXX

Barriers

Work X X X

School XX X X

Significant other X

Hates gym/working out X X XXX

Student A= hardly any exercise


Student B= works out once a week
Student C= workout out at least 60 mins a day for 4-6 times a week
Student D= athlete

Self Worth

Many students work out for various reasons. One of the few reasons is that by working

out, they feel good about themselves. Well, especially with Rugby, I feel stronger. Im very good

at commitment so it shows that I am committed. It pushes me to strive for more, both in physical

activity and in school. (Student D). By working it, others feel like they are bettering themselves.
It could be during a game as a competition, or just to make themselves better in order to feel

better. Student C also mentioned numerous of times the significance of physical activity making

her feel good about herself. (Table 1A).

Working out makes me feel positive and it makes me feel great. I encourage others to

workout. I used to now like working out but now I love it! I love it because it makes me feel

good about myself. (Student C).

Figure 1Barriers

To fully understand the influences/motivators, it is also necessary to focus on the barriers

that get in the way of college students from obtaining their physical activity. With so little time

throughout the day, college students are struggling between school, life and work. These things

can and may get in the way of students daily physical activity. I took a 4 month break because I

didnt have motivation, got distracted with school and also I wanted to work out with my

boyfriend. (Student A). Student A has expressed feeling tired multiple times during the interview.

I used to work out but its been 4 months since Ive gone to the Wrec. Ive just been lazy and I

dont have the motivation to go. (Student A).

In addition, Figure 1 shows that the three highest barriers (mentioned more than once

during the interview) was school, tiredness and the hatred of working out. Both student A and D

have mentioned that they hate going to the gym to workout. They love working out in a team or

with a group. I hate going to the gym. Im more of a cross-fit girl. (Student A). I dont really like

to work out or go to the gym in general. But I love being on a team because I love bonding with

people and just pushing myself to do better. When Im on a team, Im competitive because I want

to beat my teammates and be better. (Student D).


All the students did agree that they didnt work out at times because they were constantly tired

and feeling drained. In order to work out, students must learn to balance their time between

school, work, life and physical activity. This is quite impossible because there is so little time in

a day.

Discussion

Physical inactivity is a major public health challenge in the developed world and is recognized as

a global epidemic. (Allender 2006). College students are an important population to examine

because they are in transition between youth and adult activity patterns. Students physical

activity levels may impact on their eating habits and consumption. A student is less likely to eat

healthy if they hardly have time to squeeze in physical activity. College students are the

participants who are currently dealing with the most things on their plates. They are juggling

between school, life and work.

Interviews were conducted based on four students purposively selected to include those who do

and do not workout. One selected student will be an athlete, one who work out regularly (60

mins a day at least) for 5-6 times a week, one student who works out once a week, and one who

hardly does any physical activity. These four types were chosen to seek diversity in the

motivation of a broad range of physical activity. The purpose is understanding what

motivates/influences students to do physical activity. There is no discrimination against color,

gender, race or sexual orientation. Participants of this research will be college level students.

Results from the research does not justify for the whole college group of students.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the research showed that health, energy, and self-worth are motivators of physical

activity (PA) among college students. All of the students mentioned that health was a big factor
in contributing to their decision to do exercise as well as how energetic they felt by exercising.

Many students work out for various reasons. One of the few reasons is that by working out, they

feel good about themselves. Based on the data, three highest barriers within college students are

school, tiredness and the hatred of working out at the gym. All the students did agree that they

didnt work out at times because they were constantly tired and feeling drained. They also

mentioned that school contributed in preventing students from having time to work out.

The results, however, doesnt justify for all college students. This research can be expanded by

increasing the amount of participants to have a fuller grasp of motivators among college

students. In addition, an increase of more diverse participants and more detailed open-ended

questions would definitely further this study.


References:

Allender, Steven, and Gill D. Cowburn. "Understanding Participation in Sport and Physical

Activity among Children and Adults: A Review of Qualitative Studies." Sciencedirect. Oxford

University Press, 20 July 2006. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Harmon, Brook E., et al. "Perceived Influence and College Students' Diet and Physical Activity

Behaviors: An Examination of Ego-Centric Social Networks." BMC Public Health, vol. 16, no.

1, 06 June 2016, pp. 1-10. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3166-y.

Young, Sarah J., Jill R. Sturts, and Craig M. Ross. "Physical Activity Among Community

College Students." Physical Educator 72.4 (2015): 640-659. SPORTDiscus. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

NFSC 429 Qualitative Research Interview Guide