The purpose of this paper was to interview active and sedentary individuals to identify their specific barriers to and benefits of participating in regular exercise. Their responses were compared and contrasted, and considered in light of research in exercise psychology. Four students from the University of Kansas and its affiliates were interviewed. They were specifically compared to studies Motivations and Barriers to Exercise Among College Students by Ebben and Brudzynski and Self-Reported Constraints to Physical Activity Participation among University Students by Dhurup and Garnett.. The following will summarize the studies, give an overview of students interviewed, and lastly discuss the students in light of the studies.
Motivations and Barriers to Exercise Among College Students by Ebben and Brudzynski hypothesized that by expanding, changing, and updating the methods of study barriers and motivations of exercise from a college student standpoint would yield motives and barriers not known to date (2008). They chose to do a survey with open-ended questions. This is one of the best ideas for getting varied responses.
At university in the Midwest, Ebben and Brudzynski sent 4001 people an email at random explaining the survey. Soon after, the survey was sent out along with a cover letter. The survey was supposed to be filled out within one week, and during that week, participants were reminded halfway through to complete it (Ebben and Brudzynski 2008).
The survey was made by people in up to 20 health professions, modified after a pilot study, and implemented here. It included six parts as follows: interpreting background information, exercise participation rates, motivators for active participants changes that would lead active exercisers to do more, barriers to exercise in those who didn’t, and changes that would lead non exercisers to participate (Ebben and Brudzynski 2008). There were both fixed response and open-ended questions.
Of the 4001 people, 1044 returned the survey. They ranged in age from 17-55 years, although the average age was at about 21. They were 66% women (34% men), and 88.5% white, non-Hispanic. Participants from the United States constituted 97.89% of the sample, but participants from 17 countries were included.
Physical activity in the survey included daily activities (like walking to class) and time spent solely for exercising (like going to the gym). About 76.8% said they exercised, and 77.4 % of them said their activity levels had decreased over time. They exercise for an average 220.4 minutes a week, a majority going 3-5 days a week. The top three exercise types were cardio, followed by resistance training, and intramural sports. Non-exercisers (23.2%) also had a decline in activity over time (90.9%). Both wished for improvement in activity levels. 76.1% of the already exercising population wanted to increase their active levels as opposed to 88.8% of the non-active.
Of those who exercised, general health, fitness maintenance, and stress reduction were the top motivators. To exercise more, they would need more time and less school work. Of those who didn’t exercise, time and laziness were on top as barriers and to exercise more they would need more time and a workout partner and/or group.
In the end, open-ended questions allowed for the barriers of “laziness” and “other priorities” to be represented. Its larger sample size and more detailed information than the studies before it allowed for more barriers to be represented. Its opened-nature also aided in this. However, open-ended questions could allow results to be misinterpreted. If done again a more representative sample of the university might garner different results.
Self-Reported Constraints to Physical Activity Participation among University Students by Dhurup and Garnett hypothesized that college students would be below standards for physical activity and at risk for future diseases. The purpose of the study was to look at student involvement, their reasons for being uninvolved in physical activity, and compare them to activity standards.
The study included full time students, not employed and randomly chosen, at the Vaal University of Technology in South Africa. It excluded part-time students because of possible work time demands and factors, which shorten the time availability for students to exercise.
They used a questionnaire with 29 sentences. Participants ranked them on a 1-5 scale with 5 being strongly agree and 1 being strongly disagree. They were also asked questions like age, gender, BMI, and where they lived. It was piloted first to 10 students and small changes were made for clarity. Then it was give to 50 students make sure it was reliable.
There were 250 responses, of this 121 participants were male and 128 female. Eighty percent of the sample ranged in age from 19-24 years. Many lived in apartments (45.6%) or at the university (48.4%). Recorded BMIs for the total population averaged to 26.58, but by gender, the males were 25.66 and the females were 27.58. Only 31 % had healthy BMIs, and 46% were overweight. The rest were considered obese, with BMIs higher than 30. 173 respondents rated their health as good or better, even though that was not reflected in their BMI scores. Ironically, 92 responded that they rarely or never engaged in physical activity in a week. The study concluded that 45.2% were sedentary. Not having enough time was a major barrier, as said in the study, in terms of free-time, college age people have more than adults who work full time.
The study had many limitations. It was done at only one university in South Africa and it did not include part-time working students. The BMIs were self-reported which could lead to potential response bias. It also did not look at gender differences. If it really wanted to address the universities participation it would need to include more types of students for better representative sample.