Effectiveness of a required health-related fitness course on physical activity and dietary behaviors among community college students

Evans, Melissa Sue
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College students are experiencing increased health risks, and researchers have called for interventions to increase health-promoting behaviors among this population. The purpose of this study was to: (a) evaluate the effectiveness of a required Health-Related Fitness (HRF) course in changing PA and dietary behaviors among community college (CC) students, and (b) explore student perceptions about the effectiveness of HRF curriculum activities in changing behaviors. Pre- and post-semester data were gathered from 76 students enrolled in four HRF courses during one semester on one Texas CC campus. Pre- and post-survey questions included questions from the College Student Health Survey about demographics, PA, and dietary behaviors. Open-ended questions were included on the post-survey to explore student perceptions about the effectiveness of HRF curriculum. Repeated measures Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) found no significant changes in PA behaviors, but a significant decrease was reported in the use of handheld devices (sedentary behavior). Dietary behaviors produced significant changes in meal patterns, with breakfast eating increasing significantly. Sugar-sweetened beverages also produced significant changes, specifically in the decrease of sports drinks. No significant changes were found in fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) found no significant increase in body fat percentage, yet significant increases were reported for weight and body mass index (BMI). Frequency statistics were run on themes developed from the open-ended question responses. A large majority of students (96.1%) felt the HRF course was beneficial due to the information provided and the types of activities they participated in during the class. Suggestions for improvements included increased class workout time and additional examples and preparation methods for healthier foods. Suggestions for sustainability of healthy behaviors included tracking, motivation, support, and continuing education. This study adds to the body of knowledge for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), and results can be used to tailor activities to enhance HRF curricula. This study addresses several of the health education Areas of Responsibility including: assessing health behaviors of college-aged students, evaluating the HRF curricula, conducting research related to health education, and enhancing efforts to advocate for health education in the CC environment.

Fitness course, College students, Physical activity, Dietary behaviors