Physical Activity and Student Health: A Canadian University Perspective Open Access
- Other title
- Type of item
- Degree grantor
University of Alberta
- Author or creator
Aktary, Walie M.
- Supervisor and department
Raine, Kim (School of Public Health)
Schopflocher, Don (School of Public Health)
- Examining committee member and department
Wild, Cam (School of Public Health)
Spence, John (Faculty of Physical Education and Research)
Centre for Health Promotion Studies
- Date accepted
- Graduation date
Master of Science
- Degree level
In 2013, a research effort at the University of Alberta combined various health-related questionnaires to form the Student Life Activity Questionnaire (SLAQ) to evaluate student health behaviour, patterns, and associations. An area for inquiry became evident when the analysis of the physical activity data appeared problematic and potentially related to the questionnaire used in the study. An evaluation of the 2013 SLAQ data suggested that future iterations of the SLAQ might benefit from an alternative approach. Therefore, this thesis sought to construct a simple physical activity questionnaire where the average of the item total would provide a general indicator of physical activity behaviour with higher scores corresponding to more frequent self-reported activity participation. Items were scored on a frequency scale from 0: Never to 6: Very often. Characterizing activity behaviours by themes resulted in a set of 14 student-focused items. Themes included bodily movement, exercise, fitness, recreation/sports, and sitting. The set of items was included in the 2014 SLAQ, which was used to a) determine whether a simple scale could be identified through factor analysis, b) evaluate convergent validity by comparing the factor-extracted questionnaire with the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ), and c) explore the associations between the factor-extracted physical activity scale and scores derived from questionnaires on perceived stress, nutrition, sleep, and personal wellbeing. The invitation to participate in the SLAQ was sent to 4000 University of Alberta students in May 2014. Participation was voluntary and students were provided with a $10 credit on their university identification card if they chose to participate.
The SLAQ had a 34% response rate (n = 1366) and the findings showed that a 9-item Physical Activity Questionnaire (PAQ) could be extracted from the set of 14 items. The internal consistency of the PAQ was high (α= 0.81) and the convergent validity of the PAQ to the GPAQ activity scores was encouraging as positive Pearson (r = 0.28) and Spearman (rs = 0.44) associations (p < 0.01) were observed between the PAQ and the GPAQ total activity scores. The strongest Pearson (r = 0.49) and Spearman (rs = 0.65) associations were observed between the PAQ and GPAQ recreational activity scores. However, a direct limitation of the PAQ is that it cannot be considered a purely behavioural indicator of physical activity. When the PAQ was used to examine the associations between physical activity and indicators of health, Pearson analysis showed that the PAQ correlated significantly (p < 0.01) with perceived stress (r = -0.23), positive nutritional behaviours (r = 0.39), personal wellbeing (r = 0.29), and sleep quality (r = 0.11). A similar pattern of associations was observed when the Spearman coefficients were calculated between the GPAQ total activity scores to positive nutritional behaviours, and personal wellbeing except for perceived stress and sleep quality, which did not show a significant association. Physical activity is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle and research describing the associations between physical activity and health can provide valuable insight for public health and health promotion. The important findings from this thesis include outlining steps for additional health indicator development through theme establishment and factor analysis and a depiction of the associations between physical activity and indicators of health in the Canadian university setting. As associations are open to bidirectional interpretations, future research could explore the nature of associations found in this thesis to further guide health promotion efforts focused on improving student health and wellness.
- Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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