Physical activity awareness, knowledge, and behavior in college students
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The purpose of this project was to examine college students’ physical activity awareness in relation to their knowledge and physical activity levels, as well as the factors influencing their awareness. The secondary purpose was to develop and validate an instrument for measuring college students’ physical activity awareness. Three studies were conducted sequentially using a mixed-method approach. The first study used a phenomenological perspective to understand college students’ physical activity experience through focus group interview, concluding with four proposed domains that captures college students’ physical activity awareness including: personal physical activity level, social support, environment, and recommendation knowledge. In addition, the results indicated a lack of self-assessment in personal physical activity and awareness of physical activity recommendations. The second study involved multiple phases for instrument development. Participants for the content validity study were 10 experts in the field of physical activity and health. Items with unacceptable agreement (i.e. < 90%) were removed and remaining items were revised based on the suggestions of the experts. The instrument was first pilot tested among 50 undergraduate students for item clarity and the feasibility of using the online survey, and then tested for reliability and construct validity in 994 college students. The results indicated acceptable to good internal consistency (alpha ranging from .74 to .92), and an excellent model fit. The third study measured college students’ physical activity awareness, knowledge of physical activity recommendation, and self-reported physical activity using the validated instrument in study II and explored the relationships among these variables. Effects of gender, ethnicity, major and class standing on physical activity awareness were also examined. The results suggested college students had slightly moderate levels of PA awareness in the four components (ranging from 4.21 to 5.24 out of 7), and seemly overestimated activity levels. It was found that awareness was positively associated with knowledge (r = .220, p < .01) and behavior (r = .325, p < .01), however, no significant correlations were found between knowledge and behavior. Significant major effects were found in awareness, knowledge and behavior, suggesting the role of education in raising physical activity awareness and fostering physically active lifestyles. The path analysis results also confirmed significant direct effects from all the four physical activity awareness components on total physical activity level, providing future directions for physical activity promotion in higher education settings.