Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Educational Outcomes Among Australian University Students: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Associations

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Background: This study aimed to examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and educational outcomes (EO) in first-year university students in Australia. Method: Participants (N = 80) engaged in 3 data collection points (semesters 1, 2, and 3) that included self-reported and device-based PA and SB, and objective EO measures. Cross-sectional associations were examined using linear and binary logistic regressions, and longitudinal associations were examined using generalized estimating equations. Result: Overall, results indicated some positive but weak cross-sectional associations between some device-based and self-reported measures of PA and EO outcomes when controlling for confounders. Self-reported SB was negatively associated with semester GPA at time point 3 after adjusting for confounders (β = −0.224; 95% confidence interval, −0.446 to −0.001; P < .05). No other significant cross-sectional or longitudinal associations were identified. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that SB may be a more important target healthy behavior than PA when aiming to influence EO, and that related interventions may be more appropriate in second rather than first-year university students. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship that uses larger sample sizes, follows students beyond first year, and includes measures that distinguish between leisure and educational screen time.

Babaeer and Gomersall are with the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Babaeer is also with the School of Family Education, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Stylianou and Gomersall are with the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Babaeer (l.babaeer@uq.edu.au) is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table S1 (PDF 405 KB)
    • Supplementary Table S2 (PDF 231 KB)
    • Supplementary Table S3 (PDF 388 KB)
  • 1.

    Global Education Monitoring Report and UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning. Six ways to ensure higher education leaves no one behind. 2017. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000247862. Accessed April 11, 2021.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Summary of the 2017 full year higher education student statistics. 2017.

  • 3.

    Australian Government Department of Education and Training. 2005 Student summary. 2005. https://www.dese.gov.au/higher-education-statistics/resources/2005-student-summary. Accessed April 15, 2021.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Wengreen HJ, Moncur C. Change in diet, physical activity, and body weight among young-adults during the transition from high school to college. Nutr J. 2009;8(1):17. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-32

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Burkhalter TM, Hillman CH. A narrative review of physical activity, nutrition, and obesity to cognition and scholastic performance across the human lifespan. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(suppl 2):S201S206. PubMed ID: 22332052 doi:10.3945/an.111.000331

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Tan DL. Grades as predictors of college and career success: the case of a health-related institution. Journal of College Admission. 1991;132:1215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Suhrcke M, de Paz Nieves C. The Impact of Health and Health Behaviours on Educational Outcomes in High-Income Countries: A Review of the Evidence. Copenhagen, Denmark: World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe; 2011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Babaeer L, Stylianou M, Leveritt M, Gomersall S. Physical activity, sedentary behavior and educational outcomes in university students: a systematic review. J Am Coll Health. 2021:126. doi:10.1080/07448481.2020.1846047

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Prince SA, Cardilli L, Reed JL, et al. A comparison of self-reported and device measured sedentary behaviour in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17(1):117.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Trost SG, Mciver KL, Pate RR. Conducting accelerometer-based activity assessments in field-based research. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(suppl 11):S531S543. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000185657.86065.98

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Troiano RP, Gabriel KKP, Welk GJ, Owen N, Sternfeld B. Reported physical activity and sedentary behavior: why do you ask? J Phys Act Health. 2012;9(suppl 1):S68S75. doi:10.1123/jpah.9.s1.s68

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Australian Institute of Health Welfare. The Active Australia Survey: A Guide and Manual for Implementation, Analysis and Reporting. Canberra: AIHW; 2003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Timperio A, Salmon J, Crawford D. Validity and reliability of a physical activity recall instrument among overweight and non-overweight men and women. J Sci Med Sport. 2003;6(4):477491. PubMed ID: 14723397 doi:10.1016/S1440-2440(03)80273-6

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Brown W, Trost S, Bauman A, Mummery K, Owen N. Test-retest reliability of four physical activity measures used in population surveys. J Sci Med Sport. 2004;7(2):205215. PubMed ID: 15362316 doi:10.1016/S1440-2440(04)80010-0

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Haskell WL, Lee I-M, Pate RR, et al. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(8):14231434. PubMed ID: 17762377 doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3180616b27

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(suppl 1):S498S516. doi:10.1097/00005768-200009001-00009

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Craig CL, Marshall AL, Sjostrom M, et al. International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(8):13811395. PubMed ID: 12900694 doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000078924.61453.FB

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    van Uffelen JG, Watson MJ, Dobson AJ, Brown WJ. Sitting time is associated with weight, but not with weight gain in mid-aged Australian women. Obesity. 2010;18(9):17881794. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.511

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Abel MG, Hannon JC, Sell K, Lillie T, Conlin G, Anderson D. Validation of the Kenz Lifecorder EX and ActiGraph GT1M accelerometers for walking and running in adults. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008;33(6):11551164. PubMed ID: 19088773 doi:10.1139/h08-103

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Swartz AM, Strath SJ, Bassett DR, O’brien WL, King GA, Ainsworth BE. Estimation of energy expenditure using CSA accelerometers at hip and wrist sites. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(suppl 1):S450S456. doi:10.1097/00005768-200009001-00003

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Santos-Lozano A, Marín PJ, Torres-Luque G, Ruiz JR, Lucía A, Garatachea N. Technical variability of the GT3X accelerometer. Med Eng Phys. 2012;34(6):787790. PubMed ID: 22417978 doi:10.1016/j.medengphy.2012.02.005

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(1):181188. PubMed ID: 18091006 doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31815a51b3

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Aadland E, Ylvisåker E. Reliability of objectively measured sedentary time and physical activity in adults. PLoS One. 2015;10(7):e0133296. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133296

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Healy GN, Matthews CE, Dunstan DW, Winkler EA, Owen N. Sedentary time and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in US adults: NHANES 2003-06. Eur Heart J. 2011;32(5):590597. PubMed ID: 21224291 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq451

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    Felez-Nobrega M, Hillman CH, Cirera E, Puig-Ribera A. The association of context-specific sitting time and physical activity intensity to working memory capacity and academic achievement in young adults. Eur J Public Health. 2017;27(4):741746. PubMed ID: 28340224 doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckx021

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    Chastin SF, De Craemer M, De Cocker K, et al. How does light-intensity physical activity associate with adult cardiometabolic health and mortality? Systematic review with meta-analysis of experimental and observational studies. Br J Sports Med. 2019;53(6):370376. PubMed ID: 29695511 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097563

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Amagasa S, Machida M, Fukushima N, et al. Is objectively measured light-intensity physical activity associated with health outcomes after adjustment for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in adults? A systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018;15(1):113. doi:10.1186/s12966-018-0695-z

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority. Guide to understanding 2013 Index of Community Socio-educational Advantage (ICSEA) values. In: ACARA Sydney. 2013. https://www.myschool.edu.au/media/1820/guide-to-understanding-icsea-values.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2021.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    World Health Organization. BMI classification. Global database on body mass index: BMI classification. Published 2006. http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/icbmi.htm. Accessed May 20, 2014.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Stewart-Brown S, Tennant A, Tennant R, Platt S, Parkinson J, Weich S. Internal construct validity of the Warwick-Edinburgh mental well-being scale (WEMWBS): a Rasch analysis using data from the Scottish health education population survey. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2009;7(1):15. doi:10.1186/1477-7525-7-15

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Kessler RC, Barker PR, Colpe LJ, et al. Screening for serious mental illness in the general population. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(2):184189. PubMed ID: 12578436 doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.2.184

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines—Eat for Health: Summary. Canberra, Australia: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2013.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Kim H-R, Yang H-M. Facilitators and inhibitors of lifestyle modification and maintenance of KOREAN postmenopausal women: revealing conversations from FOCUS group interview. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(21):8178. doi:10.3390/ijerph17218178

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34.

    Schnittker J, Bacak V. The increasing predictive validity of self-rated health. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e84933. PubMed ID: 24465452 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084933

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    Ballinger GA. Using generalized estimating equations for longitudinal data analysis. Organ Res Methods. 2004;7(2):127150. doi:10.1177/1094428104263672

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Maldonado G, Greenland S. Simulation study of confounder-selection strategies. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;138(11):923936. PubMed ID: 8256780 doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116813

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Links P, Nisenbaum R, Ambreen M, et al. Prospective study of risk factors for increased suicide ideation and behavior following recent discharge. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2012;34(1):8897. PubMed ID: 21997244 doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2011.08.016

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Felez-Nobrega M, Hillman CH, Dowd KP, Cirera E, Puig-Ribera A. ActivPAL determined sedentary behaviour, physical activity and academic achievement in college students. J Sports Sci. 2018;36(20):23112316. doi:10.1080/02640414.2018.1451212

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39.

    Al-Drees A, Abdulghani H, Irshad M, et al. Physical activity and academic achievement among the medical students: a cross-sectional study. Med Teach. 2016;38(suppl 1):S66S72. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2016.1142516

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40.

    Xu Q, Sansgiry SS. Association between physical activity and grade point average among a cohort of pharmacy students in didactic years. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2018;10(3):333339. PubMed ID: 29764637 doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2017.11.007

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41.

    Trockel MT, Barnes MD, Egget DL. Health-related variables and academic performance among first-year college students: implications for sleep and other behaviors. J Am Coll Health. 2000;49(3):125131. PubMed ID: 11125640 doi:10.1080/07448480009596294

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 42.

    Deliens T, Clarys P, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Deforche B. Weight, socio-demographics, and health behaviour related correlates of academic performance in first year university students. Nutr J. 2013;12(1):19.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43.

    Angin E, GÜÇHan Topcu Z, Yatar İ, Deprelİ Ö, TomaÇ H, MihÇIoĞLu S. Assessment of physical activity and academic success levels in physiotherapy and rehabilitation students./Fizyoterapi ve rehabilitasyon öğrencilerinde fiziksel aktivite ve akademik başarı düzeylerinin değerlendirmesi. J Exerc Ther Rehabil. 2018;5(1):3337.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 44.

    Flueckiger L, Lieb R, Meyer AH, Mata J. How health behaviors relate to academic performance via affect: an intensive longitudinal study. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e0111080. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111080

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45.

    Flueckiger L, Lieb R, Meyer AH, Witthauer C, Mata J. Day-to-day variations in health behaviors and daily functioning: two intensive longitudinal studies. J Behav Med. 2017;40(2):307319. PubMed ID: 27544393 doi:10.1007/s10865-016-9787-x

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 46.

    Ruthig JC, Marrone S, Hladkyj S, Robinson-Epp N. Changes in college student health: implications for academic performance. J Coll Stud Dev. 2011;52(3):307320. doi:10.1353/csd.2011.0038

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47.

    Chung Q-E, Abdulrahman SA, Khan MKJ, Sathik HBJ, Rashid A. The relationship between levels of physical activity and academic achievement among medical and health sciences students at cyberjaya University College of medical sciences. Malays J Med Sci. 2018;25(5):88. PubMed ID: 30914866 doi:10.21315/mjms2018.25.5.9

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 48.

    Elmagd MA, Mossa AH, Sami MM, El-Marsafawy TS, Al Jadaan O, Eldin MS. The impact of physical activity on the academic performance among medical and health sciences students: a cross sectional study from RAKMHSU-Ras Alkhaimah-UAE. Int J Phys Educ Sports Health. 2015;2:9295.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 49.

    Keating XD, Castelli D, Ayers SF. Association of weekly strength exercise frequency and academic performance among students at a large university in the United States. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(7):19881993. PubMed ID: 23096065 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318276bb4c

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50.

    Wald A, Muennig PA, O’Connell KA, Garber CE. Associations between healthy lifestyle behaviors and academic performance in U.S. undergraduates: a secondary analysis of the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment II. Am J Health Promot. 2014;28(5):298305. PubMed ID: 23941106 doi:10.4278/ajhp.120518-QUAN-265

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 51.

    Brint S, Cantwell AM. Undergraduate time use and academic outcomes: results from the university of California undergraduate experiences survey 2006. Teach Coll Rec. 2010;112(9):24412470. doi:10.1177/016146811011200908

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52.

    Jepsen P, Johnsen SP, Gillman MW, Sørensen HT. Interpretation of observational studies. Heart. 2004;90(8):956960. PubMed ID: 15253985 doi:10.1136/hrt.2003.017269

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53.

    Vanhelst J, Béghin L, Duhamel A, et al. Physical activity is associated with attention capacity in adolescents. J Pediatr. 2016;168:126131.e2. PubMed ID: 26480921 doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.09.029

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 54.

    Shephard RJ. Habitual physical activity and academic performance. Nutr Rev. 1996;54(suppl 4):S32. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1996.tb03896.x

  • 55.

    Phan D-V, Chan C-L, Pan R-H, et al. A study of the effects of daily physical activity on memory and attention capacities in college students. J Healthc Eng. 2018;2018:1. PubMed ID: 29765585 doi:10.1155/2018/2942930

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 56.

    Caskie GI, Sutton MC, Eckhardt AG. Accuracy of self-reported college GPA: gender-moderated differences by achievement level and academic self-efficacy. J Coll Stud Dev. 2014;55(4):385390. doi:10.1353/csd.2014.0038

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 57.

    Castro O, Bennie J, Vergeer I, Bosselut G, Biddle SJ. Correlates of sedentary behaviour in university students: a systematic review. Prev Med. 2018;116:194202. PubMed ID: 30266213 doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.09.016

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58.

    Howie EK, Joosten J, Harris CJ, Straker LM. Associations between meeting sleep, physical activity or screen time behaviour guidelines and academic performance in Australian school children. BMC Public Health. 2020;20(1):110. doi:10.1186/s12889-020-08620-w

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 59.

    Bavelier D, Green CS, Han DH, Renshaw PF, Merzenich MM, Gentile DA. Brains on video games. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12(12):763768. PubMed ID: 22095065 doi:10.1038/nrn3135

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 60.

    Gentile DA. The multiple dimensions of video game effects. Child Dev Perspect. 2011;5(2):7581. doi:10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00159.x

  • 61.

    Clark BK, Pavey TG, Lim RF, Gomersall SR, Brown WJ. Past-day recall of sedentary time: validity of a self-reported measure of sedentary time in a university population. J Sci Med Sport. 2016;19(3):237241. PubMed ID: 25766507 doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2015.02.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 62.

    Healy GN, Clark BK, Winkler EA, Gardiner PA, Brown WJ, Matthews CE. Measurement of adults’ sedentary time in population-based studies. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(2):216227. PubMed ID: 21767730 doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2011.05.005

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 63.

    Castro O, Bennie J, Vergeer I, Bosselut G, Biddle SJ. How sedentary are university students? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Prev Sci. 2020;21(3):332343. PubMed ID: 31975312 doi:10.1007/s11121-020-01093-8

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 64.

    Cowgill BO, Perez V, Gerdes E, et al. Get up, stand up, stand up for your health! Faculty and student perspectives on addressing prolonged sitting in university settings. J Am Coll Health. 2019;69:110.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 65.

    Moulin MS, Irwin JD. An assessment of sedentary time among undergraduate students at a Canadian university. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(8):11161129.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 66.

    Castro O, Vergeer I, Bennie J, Biddle SJ. Feasibility of reducing and breaking up university students’ sedentary behaviour: pilot trial and process evaluation. Front Psychol. 2021;12:661994. PubMed ID: 34177716 doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661994

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 67.

    Skelly AC, Dettori JR, Brodt ED. Assessing bias: the importance of considering confounding. Evid Based Spine Care J. 2012;3(1):9. PubMed ID: 23236300 doi:10.1055/s-0031-1298595

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1740 1740 400
Full Text Views 92 92 12
PDF Downloads 112 112 13