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Marie H. Murphy, Angela Carlin, Catherine Woods, Alan Nevill, Ciaran MacDonncha, Kyle Ferguson and Niamh Murphy

Background: Time spent in university represents a period of transition and may be an appropriate time to promote physical activity among young adults. The aim of this study was to assess participation of university students in sport and physical activity in Ireland and to explore the association between physical activity and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness. Methods: The Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland was a cross-sectional online survey among a representative sample (n = 8122) of university students in Ireland. Binary logistic regressions were performed to examine associations between self-reported physical activity and gender (predictor variables) and individual perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness (binary outcomes). Results: Only 64.3% of respondents met the recommended level of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week with males significantly more active than females (72.1% vs 57.8% meeting guidelines). Those meeting physical activity guidelines were more likely to report greater overall health and higher mental health and happiness scores compared with their inactive peers. Conclusions: Active students enjoy better health (overall and mental) and are happier than their inactive peers. This provides a clear rationale for providing students with opportunities to be active at university. The data provide a baseline to monitor changes in physical activity patterns.

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Gavin Breslin, Stephen Shannon, Kyle Ferguson, Shauna Devlin, Tandy Haughey and Garry Prentice

Recent evidence suggests that attempts to tackle mental health stigma in athletes should include psychological theory to understand the competitive sport environment. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the aim was to determine what demographic and psychological factors predicted mental health stigma among athletes. Athletes (n = 471) completed a questionnaire, and a multiple linear regression analyses was conducted, specifying demographic (e.g., gender), psychological (e.g., norms) and moderating variables (e.g., sport type) as predictors of stigma-related intentions to socialise with individuals who are living with a mental health condition. TRA models explained a significant amount of variance for intentions, in which knowledge about and exposure to individuals with mental health conditions significantly predicted better intentions. Further, athletes competing in team sports, particularly females, had stronger intentions. This was the first study to explore mental health stigma using the TRA. Findings can inform the development of mental health awareness programs for athletes.