The patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviors among university students : application of the Transtheoretical Model to sedentary behaviors
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Insufficient physical activity and prolonged sedentary behaviors among college students are primary public health concerns. The present research seeks to 1) estimate the patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviors performed outside of a physical education (PE) course among university students, 2) develop and validate assessments for understanding the stages and processes of sedentary behavior change, and 3) examine the association between physical activity status and estimates of sedentary behaviors derived from the abovementioned assessments. A convenience sample of 225 university students aged 18 to 24 years and enrolled in a weight training course was recruited. In order to measure the amounts of time spent in physical activity and sedentary behaviors, accelerometer and self-administered questionnaires were used. Because most estimates of physical activity and sedentary behaviors were not normally distributed, nonparametric statistical tests were primarily used. More than half of the students in a weight training course did not achieve the recommended aerobic physical activity levels, and the amount of time spent in physical activity and sedentary behaviors beyond their class times did not significantly differ from those who were not involved in any PE courses. In addition, a significant difference in accelerometer-derived moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity was found by gender and by days of the week. The results indicated that the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) was successfully applied to sedentary behaviors. Strong concurrent and construct validity was found compared to objectively measured sedentary time and other TTM constructs, respectively. The TTM questionnaire for sedentary behaviors also demonstrated high internal consistency and test-retest reliability over two weeks. The findings suggest that the TTM questionnaires for sedentary behaviors are acceptable to use when targeting a reduction in sedentary behaviors in theory-based interventions. A majority of the participants were in the stages of precontemplation, contemplation, or preparation and differences in men and women by stages were shown. There were also gender differences with regards to processes of change. No associations were found between physical activity and sedentary behaviors. This research supports the necessity of additional encouragement to participate in regular physical activity outside of PE class. Further, findings demonstrate the success of applying the TTM to sedentary behaviors.