'More Students, More Active, More Often' The Opportunities for Developing and Promoting Active Lifestyles in UK Universities

  • William Tudor Williams

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this research is to develop an understanding of the influence of the university environment on exercise behaviour, and to increase research knowledge in physical activity in a young adult population. The research also examines the pre-university physical activity experiences of students.

    Four separate studies were identified summarising the essential elements of the physical activity experiences of students in higher education. A variety of research methods were used including an observational case study, a longitudinal tracking survey, questionnaires and interviews. One study details research from the providers of sport and recreation in universities. Additional studies provide an analysis of the influence of specific university physical activity interventions on the exercise behaviour of students and recent graduates.

    The results show that most students enjoy PE and sport in school. However, the activities followed in school (mainly team games) are not continued in university by the majority of undergraduates. The studies show that the undergraduates participate in high levels of exercise in activities they start at university. The most popular choice is for 'health and fitness' activities. The students' motives are the benefits of health, friendship and relaxation and not the desire for competition. The results also show that these activities are continued when the students leave university.

    The results also show that the majority of providers of sport and recreation in universities see their roles as educating undergraduates towards the goal of regular exercise. The priority of the providers is for classes, recreational programmes and 'mass' facilities rather than elite teams. The research demonstrates the potential in higher education for influencing the exercise behaviour of undergraduates. The research also indicates that this new behaviour could be continued when students leave university. With the numbers of students in higher education increasing, this research emphasises the importance of universities in promoting the goal of lifelong participation in exercise.
    Date of AwardApr 2003
    Original languageEnglish

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