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Determinants of Physical Activity Levels: A Multilevel Analysis of the American College Health Association Survey
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Physical inactivity is one of the primary modifiable risk behaviors for illness and disease. Thus, promoting regular physical activity (PA) is a top priority for most public health organizations. Despite the increasing national effort to promote an active life style, the prevalence of PA is still declining across all age groups. One important segment of the population is college-aged students. Due to the rapid decline in PA after adolescence, the increasing number of young adults who attended college, and the crucial roles such population play in the society, there are increasing calls for more research to understand the determinants of PA among college-aged students. The purpose of this study is three-fold: to examine the current evidence among theory-based PA studies, to investigate the role of student-level factors in influencing PA, and to study the effects of college-level variables on PA among college-aged students. Examining the current evidence provide a systematic methods to synthesis emergent information, help identify the current directions of PA research, and assess the gaps in knowledge within PA research. Studying the impact of student- and college-level factors assesses the magnitude of each factor in each level, compares factor impact between level, and identifies potential interactions between influencing variables. The study findings showed that most previous research applied intrapersonal theories to understand and promote PA behavior among college-aged students. However, a growing trend toward a higher-level factors was observed. Such trend is prompted by a widespread appreciation of the complexity of PA and the dynamic interaction across PA levels of influence. Additionally, the findings demonstrated a wide variation between PA studies’ designs, methods, and models. Based on the findings of the student-level and college-level variables, both levels exerted a significant impact on PA. However, the greatest impact was from college-level variables. Additionally, the study results showed a significant interaction effects between PA determinants and several students’ characteristics. This study demonstrates that focusing on a single level of influence (i.e., intrapersonal level variables) is insufficient and, even, detrimental because it could lead to erroneous conclusions and misplaced efforts and resources. PA is multifaceted and complex. Thus, a multilevel approach to understand PA among college-aged students is required to effectively promote the behavior. Moreover, observational studies that disregard the impact of bias and risks of validity is ubiquities in PA research. Such study design should be balanced with a more rigorous design such as quasi-experimental methods offer a more reliable and valid findings. This study’s results could inform future research, policies and interventions aimed to promote PA among college-aged students. College health researchers, educators, and administrators can identify current PA patterns and emergent PA determinants to better understand the complexity of the behavior and design well-specified models and tailored programs.
Alshagrawi, Salah Saleh A (2019). Determinants of Physical Activity Levels: A Multilevel Analysis of the American College Health Association Survey. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from