An Evaluation of a College Exercise Leader Program: Using Exercise Science Students as Advocates for Behavior Modification

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate a college’s exercise leadership program, which was developed to help students, faculty and staff implement behavior changes necessary to begin and maintain a comprehensive exercise program.

Methods:

From 2006–2011, a total 66 subjects were recruited and each was assigned to a student exercise leader. Based on comprehensive baseline assessments, each student designed an individualized exercise program for his/her subject. At program completion, the subjects were reassessed.

Results:

Paired t tests were used to find significant statistical changes (P < .05) among the fitness components. Significant changes as a function of the 6-week exercise program were observed in body weight, body fat percentage, waist circumference, 1-mile walk time, sit-ups, push-ups, and trunk flexion.

Conclusions:

Getting started is the most difficult step, but beginning an exercise program has immediate benefits. Institutions of higher education are addressing issues of wellness as a means for increasing graduation, retention, and productivity rates among their campus constituents. These efforts are part of a collaborative effort initiated by the American College Health Association known as Healthy Campus 2020. The findings from this study have a direct impact on programmatic efforts.

Armstrong (shelley.armstrong@waldenu.edu) and Burcin are with the College of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN. Henderson is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Hendrix College, Conway, AR. Williams is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA.