UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Athletics and Recreation : Move More Learn More for First Year Students Lam, Wesley; Su, Danita; Tsung, Annie; Yuan, Michael


This study was conducted in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Athletics and Recreation’s Move More Learn More (MMLM) program to aid in developing on-campus physical activity programming for first year students. The study purpose was to identify key barriers and motivators of physical activity engagement amongst a variety of first-year demographic cohorts to gain insight on how the MMLM program could be more convenient and marketable to a wider range of individuals. Recent literature highlights the heightened vulnerabilities of first year students to experience significantly large decreases of physical activity which predisposes these individuals to negative health outcomes in the future (Bray & Born, 2004; Thomas et al., 2019). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, MMLM currently runs a variety of online physical activity and health education classes specifically for Asian female-identifying UBC students (UBC, 2021a). With the planned “return to on-campus instruction and increased levels of on-campus research activity” in the fall, in-person first-year physical activity programming can become a reality (UBC, 2021b). Because of the drastic changes in lifestyle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals may be reflecting on their past and current physical activity engagements. Therefore, our survey focused on asking questions regarding intrinsic and extrinsic factors surrounding physical activity behaviours. Our study surveyed a total of 44 participants who identified as one of the following: incoming first years from high school, first years transferring from another institution, current first years, or incoming first years from a gap year. Questions were presented in multiple-choice formats and likert-type scales. Through the analysis, it was found that the most cited perceived barriers against physical activity participation were (in descending order): lack of time, lack of motivation, and self consciousness. Interestingly, “lack of friends” was not perceived by participants to be a significant barrier which may indicate a shift from socially-driven to health-driven physical activity as a result of the pandemic (and social distancing practices). Meanwhile, students acknowledged and agreed with many positive motivators for exercise such as mental health benefits, long-term health benefits, and appreciation for an active lifestyle. In conjunction with other survey findings, our research team produced three recommendations of key guidelines - RAD-I-CAL (Recurring/Adjustable/Duration, Integration, Cost/Accessibility/ Longevity) - for the MMLM program to consider in the development of their novel program tailored for first-year students. Our study brings primary insight from the target population of MMLM’s future program but it is not without its limitations. These limitations include a small sample size, strictly quantitative survey, and reporting bias. Although these limitations may create threats to external validity, our results and recommendations serve as a foundation for future research that UBC Athletics and Recreation can implement into their first-year specific physical activity programs in the future. We hope that this study will contribute to the active and ongoing health promotion initiatives at UBC to better inform and definitively engage incoming students with physical activity and healthy long-term practices. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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