Elizabeth A. Easley, Sarah H. Sellhorst, William F. Riner, FACSM. University of South Carolina Lancaster, Lancaster, SC.

BACKGROUND: Physical activity is an important contributor to overall health; however, as most young adults transition into college, physical activity decreases and sedentary time increases. Body composition also may change during this time. While these factors have been studied in students at large, public 4-year institutions, less is known about the health habits of students at smaller, commuter-based campuses. The purpose of this study was to examine if differences existed in time spent in physical activity categories (sedentary; light; moderate to vigorous, MVPA) between women with a healthy body fat (HBF) percentage and those considered overfat (OBF). METHODS: 49 traditional-aged (18-25 y), full-time female students at a rural, commuter-based, predominantly two-year university were recruited. Height (cm), weight (kg), and body fat percentage (%fat, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) were measured. Participants were requested to wear an accelerometer during all waking hours for 7 consecutive days. Groups were determined using ACSM recommendations for women: a healthy body fat group (HBF; ≤ 32.0 %fat, n = 21) and an overfat group (OBF, >32.0 %fat, n = 28). A one-way MANOVA was used to determine differences in time spent in physical activity (sedentary, light, MVPA) based on %fat. RESULTS: No significant differences were found for time spent at any intensity level between groups, Wilks’ lambda = .951, F(3, 45) = .773, p = .5151, partial eta squared= .049, (Sedentary time, HBF = 4024.9 vs. OBF = 3848.2 min; Light, HBF = 1380.1 vs. OBF = 1086.2 min; MVPA, HBF = 193.2 vs. OBF = 227.9 min). DISCUSSION: Despite previously reported associations between obesity and physical activity, there were no differences in any physical activity category between the groups. The small sample may have impacted the lack of statistical significance as there seemed to be some practical differences between groups. In particular, the HBF group spent 300 minutes more per week in light physical activity. Perhaps this indicates time spent in non-exercise activity thermogenesis through light activity is a critical factor in our sample. In addition to a larger sample size, other measures of health or health behaviors such as nutrition, sleep, and cardiovascular fitness may have further strengthened our understanding of these groups. Funded by the Research and Productive Scholarship Grant.

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