Chronic diseases are a leading cause of death and disability in Australia, (Australian institute of Health and Wellbeing, AIHW). Fortunately, a majority of chronic diseases are relatively preventable with moderate to vigorous physical activity. Physical activity is bodily movement that has greater energy expenditure than what is used during rest (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute). At present teenagers are heavier than those from past decades (McCarthy, Ellis & Cole, 2003). This is concerning as physical activity is increasingly becoming a more important factor in the prevention of disease (McIntyre, 2013).
The purpose of the current study is to examine the perceptions of benefits and barriers to physical activity amongst university students. This will help to gain an insight into the reasons physical activity is neglected by many Australians, which can then be used to decrease the mortality (death) rate and further increase the morbidity (quality of life) rate. Literature review McIntyre (2013) shows that moderate physical activity over three days a week can substantially decrease the death rate of diseases including cv diseases and cancer. Figure 1.
shows that only moderate exercise is necessary to benefit from a greater decline in risk of death. This shows exercise professionals, especially those in physical education positions at either primary or secondary schools, that it is not necessary to be highly active in order to gain health benefits. It is law in Western Australia that school students in grades one to ten are required to complete at least two hours a week of physical education classes each week (Department of education). Figure 1. Health Benefits of Physical Activity (McIntyre, F. 2013).
Figure 2. shows that if physical activity is increased a person’s mortality rate will be reduced, it also presents that the elderly receive the greatest benefit from increasing their physical activity levels (Lee and Paffanenberger, 2000). Figure 2. Presents findings that show people who are physically active display lower levels of mortality from any cause at any age. Figure 2. Age-specific mortality from all causes among 16,936 Harvard Alumni in 1962 to 1978, according to physical activity levels. (Lee and Paffanenberger, 2000). Perceived benefits
Grubbs and Carter (2002) found that perceive benefits of physical activity correlated with physical performance, appearance and personal accomplishment. They attempted to assist health care professionals in understanding how undergraduate college students perceive the benefits and barriers to physical activity leading towards the improvement of mental and physical health of the students. Tergerson and King (2002) also found the top two benefits for females are to “stay in shape” and “lose weight” similar to Grubbs and Carter (2002) findings that females view “Exercise improves the way my body looks.
” as a major benefit. Perceived barriers Grubbs and Carter (2002) found the most significant barrier to physical activity was items that involved physical exertion such as “exercise tires me”, “exercise is hard work” and “I am fatigued by exercise. ” The biggest difference between the high and low active groups in this study was their response to “exercise takes to much of my time” with a standard deviation of 0. 66. Another barrier discovered was that participants were too embarrassed to exercise, however the study did not take into account that this may be due to a weight problem.
Tappe, Duda and Ehrnwald (1989) reported that the most common barrier was adolescents “wanting to do other things with my time. ” Many adolescents have the desire to be physical active but simply lack a safe place to do so, such as a recreation centre (Tergerson & King, 2002). Given the previous findings it is predicted that the high active group will report higher ratings on the benefits questions and lower ratings on the barrier questions compared to the low active group. Methods The current study uses qualitative measures with a forty-question questionnaire given to participants.
Participants rate the forty questions on a scale of one to seven. (One= extremely unlikely, seven= extremely likely). Participants There are forty-four participants in the current study classified according to four prerequisites, those being; low and high active and males and females. There were nine low active females, twelve low active males, thirteen high active females and nine high active males. Overall the average age of participants was 22. 3 years. Instrumentation Participants completed a forty-item benefits and barriers questionnaire (Delaney, 1992).
Questions one to twenty-nine were about perceived benefits to physical activity and questions thirty to forty were about perceived barriers to physical activity. Participants responded on a seven point likert scale (1= extremely unlikely, 7= extremely likely). Data analyses Data was entered into Microsoft excel and the following responses were sorted into low active and high active males and females. Averages were calculated to examine perceptions to physical activity. Results Figure 3. Average responses of perceived benefits and barriers for low active vs. high active.
Generally the high active participants answered a higher score on all the benefits questions except, question sixteen (Being physically active will improve the way my body looks) were the low active participants rank 0. 2 marks higher. However the results are inversely proportional in the barriers questions with the low active participants scoring higher in all the questions except question thirty-eight (it takes too much time from my school work) which scored even across the board. The most substantial difference between the two groups was in question fourteen (improve my flexibility).
The high active group replied with an average score of 6. 1 while the low active group responded with a deviation of four marks giving a scaled score of just 2. 1. Question thirty-one (I am too embarrassed to be involved in physical activity) ranked a close second with a deviation of 3. 7 marks between the two groups, low active scoring higher than the high active at a rating of 5. 8 marks. Most notably however in question thirty-eight. (it takes too much time from my school work) both groups average the exact same score of 2. 7 marks with a standard deviation of 1.
5. Figure 4. Average responses of perceived benefits and barriers for low females vs. low males The low active male participants recorded a higher score on the majority of benefits questions with the greatest exception question ten (raise my physical fitness level) which females scored higher by 0. 4 marks. The barriers results are inversely proportional with the low active female participants scoring higher in all but three questions with the biggest difference being question thirty-six (it takes too much time from my family) where females scored 3.
9 marks higher than the males. Figure 4. displays the average scores amongst low active males and females. These scores run proportionally between the two groups at a similar rate however there are some notable differences particularly question thirty-six. (it takes too much time from family) where the low active females scored 6 marks, 3. 9 marks higher than the males and question thirty-seven. (it takes too much time from my friends) Females scored 3. 3 marks higher than the males at 6. 1.
It should be noted that a number of the average scores had no deviations (eleven – improve my muscle tone, fourteen – improve my flexibility, twenty – give me a sense of personal achievement and thirty-nine – physical activity is tiring). Figure 5. Average responses of perceived benefits and barriers for high females vs. High males. Generally the high active female participants scored higher in all the benefits questions but five the major score difference with males on top is question eleven (improve my muscle tone) where males scored 0.
7 marks higher than the females. The results are mildly, inversely proportional in the barriers questions with the high active male participants scoring higher in a majority of the questions with the greatest difference between the two groups being in question thirty-five (there are not enough places for physical activity) a difference of 1. 1 marks. The most substantial difference between the two groups was in question fourteen (improve my flexibility). The high active group replied with an average score of 6.
1 while the low active group responded with a deviation of four marks giving a scaled score of just 2. 1. Question thirty-one (I am too embarrassed to be involved in physical activity) ranked a close second with a deviation of 3. 7 marks between the two groups, low active scoring higher than the high active at a rating of 5. 8 marks. Most notably in question thirty-eight. (it takes too much time from my school work) both groups average the exact same score of 2. 7 marks with a standard deviation of 1. 5. Discussion The current study found some similarities with previous held research projects.
Question sixteen (improve the way my body looks) shows that the low active group believes that physically active people are more attractive than physically inactive people. This is promising as it could be used as a tactic to encourage people to become more active. This finding is similar to Tergerson and King (2002) showing that females attribute physical activity to losing weight and staying in shape. The results from question thirty-seven (it takes too much time from my friends) show that participants want to spend time with their friends more than they wish to exercise.
Participants, especially females are shown to believe that exercise takes to much of this time (figure 4). It is this very reason that people should be encouraged to exercise with their friends. Creating a ‘buddy system’ will increase the fun and bring on competition between boys and motivation between girls. Tappe, Duda and Ehrnwald (1989) results support the current studies findings. The greatest perceived benefits were recorded by the high active group on questions nine (increase my muscle strength) and ten (raise my physical fitness).
This is supported by previous evidence that shows men are interested in becoming stronger during physical activity. This is supported by Grubbs and Carter (2002) who found that looks were a major reason towards exercise amongst adolescents. These finds are further supported in the current study by the low active group’s highest benefit score being on the topic of looks, question sixteen (improves the way my body looks). The greatest perceived barrier for low active participants is question thirty-four (I look funny in sports clothes) with an average rating of 5.
9 this presents a deviation from the high active group of 3. 5. The greatest perceived barrier for the high active group is question thiry-nine (physical activity is tiring) this question only received a rating of 3 marks compared to the low actives groups 5. 6 marks. Grubbs and Carter (2002) reported similar results of adolescents not wanting to participate in physical activity because it was too tiring. Limitations A significant limitation of this study was none of the participants background information was taken.
Due to this, aspects of the data cannot be analysed such as the socio-economic background effects on perceived benefits and barriers to physical activity and the education levels of the participants. The information was self reported resulting in the researcher needing to believe what was reported, unfortunately this limitation is difficult to prevent however by thoroughly explaining the questions and how to answer the questions, a part of the ‘chance data’ can be removed. As the study was performed with only forty-four people who all attend the same university, in the same class the results can not be conclusive over a large area.
The main difference seen in this study shows that high active people perceive the benefits of exercise as greater than low active people and on an inverse plane low active people perceive the barriers to physical activity as greater than high active people. The results show that males and females associate different benefits being greater with physical activity. This means that they either should not be within the same sporting class at school or the class should regularly incorporate both competitiveness for boys and more stress reduction as well as ways to be healthier for girls. It is recommended that:
Government system’s need to further educate and encourage individuals to make the first move, that being asking a friend to exercise with them (buddy system) Boys in school should be encouraged with more competitiveness Girls in school should be encouraged more with ways that reduce stress and promote self-esteem (Tergerson & King, 2002) Further educate society about the physical benefits of physical activity, as the younger generation are less interested in how physical activity will benefit their health and more interested in the physical attributes Physical activity needs to be promoted further amongst adolescents as this facilitates a carry-over affect into adulthood. (Barnekow-Bergkvist, Hedberg, Janiert, & Jansson. 1998). References Australian institute of Health and Wellbeing. (2008). Chronic diseases mortality. Retrieved from http://www. aihw. gov. au/chronic-diseases-mortality/ Barnekow-Bergkvist M,. Hedberg, G. , Janiert, U. , & Jansson, E. (1998). Physcial activity patterns in men and women a the ages of 16 and 34 and development of physical activity from adolescents to adulthood. Scand J med sic sports. 6, 359-370 Delaney, R. (1993). Attitude, intention and exercise among adolescent girls. Unpublished Masters Thesis.
University of Sydney. The Department of Education. (2013). Mandatory Two Hours of Physical Activity. Retrieved from http://www. det. wa. edu. au/curriculumsupport/physicalactivity/detcms/navigation/physical-activity-in-schools/policies-and-guidelines/#toc1 Grubbs, L. & Carter, J. (2002). The relationship of perceived benefits and barriers to reported exercise behaviors in college undergraduates. Family and Community Health, 25(2), 76-84. McIntyre, F. (2013). Health costs of Physical Inactivity: Week 5. Lecture notes distributed in the course HPE100 – Physical activity and health, at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle on March 28, 2013.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2011). What is physical activity?. Retrieved from http://www. nhlbi. nih. gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/ Paffenbarger, Jr. , Hyde, R. , Wing, A. , Hsieh, C. (1986). Physical activity, all-cause mortality, and longevity of college alumni. The New England Journal of Medicine 314(10), 605-613. doi:10. 1056/nejm198603063141003 Tappe MK, Duda JL, Ehrnwald PM. Percieved barriers to exercise among adolescents. J sch health. 1989;59(4);153-155 Tergerson, J. L. , & King, K. A. (2002). Do perceived cues, benefits, and barriers to physical activity differ between male & female adolescents? Journal of School Health, 72(9), 374-379.