Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Gretchen Macy (Director), Darlene Shearer, Grace Lartey

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


The health benefits of physical activity include improved cardiovascular health, reduced rates of diabetes and other metabolic diseases, weight maintenance and improved bone and mental health (United States Department Health & Human Services (2008). According to the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA, 2013), only 20.0% of college students in the United States meet this recommendation. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) attempts to explain the intention to perform behaviors that are not under an individual’s complete volitional control and has been highly utilized in predicting intention and performance of physical activity (Courneya, Nigg & Estabrooks, 1998). This study aimed to understand the behavior and intentions of WKU students towards physical activity using the Theory of Planned Behavior as a guiding framework. This study utilized the TPB as a framework to examine health promoting and health inhibiting factors impacting participation in physical activity among college students. The study was a one-time, cross-sectional survey administered to students in a Personal Health (PH 100) course. Institutional Board Review (IRB) approval was obtained for the study. Information was collected on demographic variables and other factors influencing physical activity behavior among PH-100 students. Statistical analysis was conducted on the data collected to determine the associations between the TPB constructs and intentions to perform physical activity. About 38% of participants were classified as having BMI greater than 25, classifying them as overweight or obese. Males were found to be more likely to be overweight or obese than females. A total of 54.6% of participants met the current American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations for physical activity. Lack of time and lack of energy were the most significant perceived barriers. Attitudes and perceived behavioral control (PBC) were found to significantly impact intention to perform physical activity. In conclusion, the current levels of physical activity among college students can still be improved. The TPB provides a useful framework for predicting intentions to perform physical activity in college students. It can also serve as a useful guide for the development of programs geared toward increasing rates of physical activity among students.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion