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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining changes in the physical activity, health-related quality of life, and psychological distress of first year university students Sharp, Paul Gregory


Once thought to be a period of optimal health, young adulthood is now being associated with numerous health concerns. Particularly, individuals transitioning out of high school and into university are most susceptible to disproportionate declines in rates of physical activity. The purpose of the present study was to test the effects of a pedometer-based intervention on the physical activity behaviour, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and psychological distress of first year university students. Participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention group, where they received a personal pedometer and monthly follow-up emails, or a control group, where participants received no lifestyle modification treatment. Intervention participants were asked to track their steps on a monthly calendar for 3 months and aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps. Data were analyzed using split-plot repeated measures MANOVA/ANOVA. Findings indicated that the pedometer-based intervention failed to produce any significant differences between the intervention and control group for physical activity, F(3, 165) = 1.29, p = .28, HRQOL, F(2, 176) = .22, p = .80, or psychological distress, F(1, 176) = .13, p = .72, from baseline to follow-up. A significant main effect for time indicated that all participants experienced an increase in mild physical activity, F(1, 167) = 7.08, p < .01, and psychological distress, F(1, 176) = 20.67, p < .001, and a decrease in vigorous physical activity, F(1, 167) = 4.13, p = .04, and mental health status, F(1, 177) = 16.43, p < .001, across the duration of the study. No change in moderate physical activity, F(1, 167) = .76, p = .39, or physical health status, F(1, 177) = .06, p = .81, was observed. These results support the need to address specific health concerns in first-year university students and suggest several implications for future interventions.

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