An Examination of the Impact of College Level Physical Activity Classes by Race and Ethnicity

Open Access
Shields, Samantha N
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Melissa Jean Bopp, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mary Jane De Souza, Honors Advisor
  • college
  • physical activity
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • students
  • college students
  • physical activity classes
  • exercise
  • exercise classes
Not only is physical activity associated with physical, psychosocial, and cognitive health benefits, but regular physical activity can help prevent the onset of multiple chronic diseases. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression can be prevented through exercise, yet fewer college students are participating in physical activity than in the past. Additionally, fewer 4-year colleges are enforcing mandatory physical education courses that could potentially bring great health benefits to students. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in physical activity behaviors by race in a sample of college students from a large 4-year university in the northeast. Surveys asked students about physical activity behaviors as well as social media sharing about exercise and wearable device usage. Data was analyzed by SPSS software, where t-tests, correlations, and ANOVAs had significance levels set at p<0.05. Differences were found by race in variables such as weekly vigorous physical activity, self-efficacy of exercise, and physical activity enjoyment. Differences in these variables were also associated with each race’s participation in social media sharing and wearable device usage. Changes were seen in variables over the course of one semester where the students were involved in a university physical activity course. Future studies with higher response rates could possibly find more significant differences by race. Future methods of encouraging physical activity in college students with attention to race could also be employed to better the health and longevity of college-aged people.