THE IMPACT OF A CONCEPTUALLY BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COURSE ON COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health issues are prevalent in the college population and may impact students’ quality of life and wellbeing. Physical activity has been demonstrated to improve mental health in a variety of populations, including college students. A conceptually based physical activity course may be an educational opportunity for students. Students who strive to be physical active may recognize the positive impact that it can have on mental health. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between a conceptually based physical activity course and college students’ mental health. The conceptual basis of this course is to explain what components make up physical activity or exercise, how it affects the human body, and the importance of developing a lifetime physical activity plan. Mental health was operationally defined as stress, mental well – being, and quality of life. METHODS: The 16 - week study took place over Fall 2019. Participants (n = 94) completed online questionnaires for both pre and post course measurements that examined physical activity levels, perceived stress, quality of life, and overall mental health. Physical activity levels were measured subjectively and examined by a 7 – Day IPAQ Recall (short form). The Keyes’ Mental Health Continuum (short form) addressed students’ levels of anxiety and depression. The Quality of Life health survey (12 item) examined students’ quality of life. The Perceived Stress Scale (10 item) examined students’ stress levels. Descriptive statistics and repeated measures analysis of variance (RM - ANOVA) were used to compare pre and post course mental health scores and self- reported physical activity levels. Pearson correlations were used to determine the relationship between pre and post mental health outcome score. The measurement for effect size was Cohen’s d. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. RESULTS: The undergraduate participants included (n = 94; 71.3% female; 71.3% Caucasian; 19.7 } 1.3 years) 33% sophomores. The average BMI was 24.1 } 8.4 kg/m2. On average, participants reported participating in 552.8.0 } 1,298.3 MET minutes of moderate physical activity during the post data collection period, which was an increase of 21.8 MET minutes per week from the pre course period (p = 0.871; d = 0.019). Participants self – reported an average of 1,549.4 } 2,188.4 MET minutes per week of vigorous activity before the course and only 1,121.6 } 2,276.5 MET minutes post course (p = 0.119; d = 0.191). It was found that participants engaged in approximately 2,872.0 } 2,930.8 MET minutes of total leisure activity on a weekly basis upon completion of the course, which was 1,338.7 less MET minutes than their prior active minutes before course (p = 0.001; d = 0.338). Participants scored lower on Keyes’ Mental Health Continuum short form post course (M = 65.6 } 13.8 pre, 63.3 } 14.7 post; out of a possible total score of 84) but it did not represent any significance within this measured outcome (p = 0.099; d = 0.161). A higher score indicates a higher level of emotional well – being, and a lower score indicates a lower level of emotional or mental well - being. The correlation between pre and post course scores did reflect a moderate, positive association for overall mental well – being (r = .56**; p = 0.000; ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level - 2-tailed). Participants scored lower on the Quality of Life Short Form Health Survey post course, but it did not represent any significance between the pre - post change within this measured outcome (M = 31.4 } 5.2 pre, 30.9 } 4.4 post; p = 0.423; d = 0.103). A higher score indicates a better quality of life. The correlation between pre and post course scores did reflect a minor, positive association for students’ quality of life (r = .10; p = .322). Participants did not report lower scores on the Perceived Stress Scale compared to their pre - course mean scores (M = 29.7 } 5.8 pre, 29.7 } 6.3 post; p = 1.00; d = 0). A higher the score indicates higher stress levels. The relationship between pre perceived stress and pre quality of life scores revealed a strong, positive association (r = .71, p = 0.000). CONCLUSION: Results suggest that students were less active post course with minimal change in mental health. Further examination of the effect of a physical activity course on mental health within the college population is warranted.
Gold, Anna. (June 2020). THE IMPACT OF A CONCEPTUALLY BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COURSE ON COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/8647.)
Gold, Anna. THE IMPACT OF A CONCEPTUALLY BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COURSE ON COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, June 2020. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/8647. October 24, 2020.
Gold, Anna, “THE IMPACT OF A CONCEPTUALLY BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COURSE ON COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, June 2020).
Gold, Anna. THE IMPACT OF A CONCEPTUALLY BASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COURSE ON COLLEGE STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; June 2020.
East Carolina University