The influence of social support on female exercise self-efficacy in a college health-related fitness course

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Goals of Healthy Campus 2020 is to improve health across college campuses for students. One of the focuses is to increase physical exercise and avoid weight gain and risks for obesity. During this time of transition, many college students do not partake in regular exercise and females are at lower levels of exercise participation compared to males. College is the last occasion to teach a large population of college students how to establish healthy habits included establishing and maintaining regular exercise. The purpose of this quantitative study was to: (a) examine the role of social support in fostering exercise self-efficacy in college-aged females enrolled in a required health-related fitness course, and (b) assess whether there is a difference in pre- and post-fitness assessments in an intervention group (with additional social support) versus a control group (without additional social support) of college-aged females enrolled in a required health-related fitness course. Data was collected from a sample of females ages 18-24 that were enrolled in a weight training for women course. A 2 (group) by 2 (time) Repeated Measures ANOVA analyzed the data to reveal an increase in exercise self-efficacy level over the course of the semester regardless of group, F(1, 53) = 9.08, p = .004, η 2 = .15. Based on the effect size, it was apparent that the effect was large. There was not a statistically significant interaction between time and group, p = .483, indicating that the groups changed similarly over time. Measuring social support, the results indicated a significant difference in social support from classmates, t(53) = 2.77, p = .008, d = .86, with the intervention group being provided more social support from classmates than the control group. The invention groups with a social support component all had a significant difference (p = <.05) in all measured fitness assessments compared to a control group. This study adds to the gap in the literature for proper curriculum development that will include a specifically designed social support component to instill exercise self-efficacy within female college students. This study did occur during a worldwide pandemic. Future research should replicate the study during a non-pandemic period and include a larger and more diverse sample.

Obesity, Exercise self-efficacy, Social support, Female college students, Physical activity, Health-related fitness course