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Motivations for Exercise and Dietary Habits of College Students

The primary purpose of this topic was to compare the attitudes toward physical activity, attitudes toward nutrition, self motivation and family influences of college students with good exercise and dietary habits with those with poor exercise and dietary habits. A secondary purpose was to determine the predictive value of the variables in distinguishing exercise and dietary habits.

A sample of 278 male and female college students completed the survey. The subjects completed a seven day physical activities diary, a twenty-four hour dietary recall, Petrie’s Attitude Toward Physical Activities Survey, Sim’s Attitude Toward Nutrition Survey, Dishman’s Self Motivation Inventory, and a questionnaire on family influences designed by this researcher.

The following are the major findings of this study. Subjects with good exercise habits had more positive attitudes toward physical activity than those with poor exercise habits. An analysis of variance revealed a significantly larger amount (p < .01) of support for involvement in physical activity in the group with good exercise habits than in the group with poor exercise habits.

The attitudes of the subjects toward nutrition were unrelated to their dietary habits. The measure of self motivation also proved to be unrelated to both exercise and dietary habits. The encouragement of a subject’s family to exercise and eat nutritiously was also unrelated to his or her exercise or dietary habits. However, an inverse relationship was found between the amount of encouragement given by father and mother to exercise and eat nutritiously and the exercise and dietary habits.

The analysis of variance revealed significantly more encouragement was given by father and mother to those with poor exercise and dietary habits to exercise (p < .06) and to eat nutritiously (p < .05). Male and female college students in the same exercise habits group and in the same dietary habits group did not differ in attitude toward physical activity, attitude toward nutrition, self motivation, or family influences. However, when ungrouped, the males showed a significantly more positive, p < .01, attitude toward physical activity, and a significantly higher, p < .05, level of self motivation than the females. When grouped by combined good exercise and nutrition or poor exercise and nutrition the instruments correctly classified 69% of the subjects.