Insufficiently active Australian college students: perceived personal, social, and environmental influences

Prev Med. 1999 Jan;28(1):20-7. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0375.


Background: A sustainable pattern of participation in physical activity is important in the maintenance of health and prevention of disease. College students are in transition from an active youth to a more sedentary adult behavior pattern.

Methods: We assessed self-reported physical activity and other characteristics in a sample of 2,729 male and female students (median age was 20 years) recruited from representative courses and year levels at four Australian College campuses. They were categorized as sufficiently or insufficiently active, using estimates of energy expenditure (kcal/week) derived from self-reported physical activity. Personal factors (self-efficacy, job status, enjoyment), social factors (social support from family/friends), and environmental factors (awareness of facilities, gym membership) were also assessed.

Results: Forty-seven percent of females and 32% of males were insufficiently active. For females, the significant independent predictors of being insufficiently active were lower social support from family and friends, lower enjoyment of activity, and not working. For males, predictors were lower social support from family and friends, lower enjoyment of activity, and being older.

Conclusions: Factors associated with physical activity participation (particularly social support from family and friends) can inform physical activity strategies directed at young adults in the college setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Employment / psychology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Environment
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Students* / psychology
  • Students* / statistics & numerical data
  • Universities*