Engaged scholarship provides students with opportunities to learn and practice skills within both the general community and underserved populations. These types of opportunities are needed in kinesiology programs which train many allied health and wellness professionals. This paper outlines different strategies that were used to create service-learning opportunities in kinesiology undergraduate classes. Using frameworks established by national organizations (e.g., League of American Bicyclists, American Fitness Index), students have an opportunity to apply concepts of how community, policy, and the environment impact physical activity and public health. These activities help students gain experience by interacting in a professional setting; building skills for data collection, community engagement, and public speaking; and apply content from coursework to real-world situations.
Melissa Bopp, Christopher Bopp and Megan Schuchert
Active transportation (AT) has been associated with positive health outcomes, yet limited research has addressed this with college students, a population at-risk for inactivity. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness outcomes.
A volunteer, convenience sample (n = 299) of college students from a large northeastern university completed a survey about their AT habits to and on campus and psychosocial constructs related to AT and participated in a laboratory-based fitness assessment (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition).Off-campus students were dichotomized as nonactive (0−1 AT trips/day) or active travelers (> 1 AT trips/day) to campus; t-tests compared nonactive and active travelers for psychosocial and fitness variables.
Students were 56.3% male, 79.2% non-Hispanic White, and primarily living off-campus (87%). Most students (n = 177, 59.2%) reported active travel between classes. Off-campus students were primarily active travelers (76.1%). Active travelers to campus had greater cardiovascular fitness (P = .005), were more flexible (P = .006) and had lower systolic blood pressure (P = .05) compared with nonactive travelers.
This study documents a relationship between AT behavior and objectively measured fitness among college students and provides a rationale for targeting this behavior as a method for improving health outcomes.
Melissa Bopp, Cheryl Der Ananian and Matthew E. Campbell
The demonstrated health benefits of active commuting (AC) and low participation rates among older adults indicate a need to examine the socioecological correlates of AC by age category. An online survey of employed U.S. adults examined AC participation and individual, employment-related, community, and environmental variables. Participants were dichotomized by age (younger: 18–49 yr; n = 638, 64% and older: ≥50 yr; n = 359, 36%). Logistic-regression analyses examined differences in AC correlates by age. Older adults were less likely to be active commuters (13.4%) than younger adults (27.9%; p < .001) For older adults, analyses yielded a Nagelkerke R2 = .76, with perceived behavioral control, behavioral beliefs, household cars, and walking distance as predictors. Analyses for younger adults resulted in a Nagelkerke R2 = .79, with perceived behavioral control, coworker normative beliefs, parking problems at work, greater employer and community support for AC, and bad weather as predictors. Findings suggest age should be considered when examining and targeting AC behaviors.
Robert Fields, Andrew T. Kaczynski, Melissa Bopp and Elizabeth Fallon
Few studies of the built environment and physical activity or other health behaviors have examined minority populations specifically. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between the built environment and multiple health behaviors and outcomes among Hispanic adults.
Community partners distributed surveys (n = 189) in 3 communities in southwest Kansas. Logistic regression was used to examine relationships between neighborhood perceptions and 4 outcomes.
Meeting physical activity recommendations was associated with the presence of sidewalks and a safe park, and inversely related to higher crime. Residential density and shops nearby were related to active commuting. Sedentary behavior was inversely related to having a bus stop, bike facilities, safe park, interesting things to look at, and seeing people active. Finally, seeing people active was positively associated with being overweight.
This study suggests that among Hispanics, many built environment variables are related to health behaviors and should be targets for future neighborhood change efforts and research.
Jennifer P. Agans, Oliver W.A. Wilson and Melissa Bopp
Objective: To assess the extent to which college student physical activity behaviors and attitudes are associated with enrollment in required, but self-selected, health and wellness courses. Participants: Data were analyzed from 1473 undergraduate students (60% women) taking health and wellness courses at a large northeastern university. Methods: Demographic characteristics and activity levels at the time of course enrollment were assessed in relation to course selection and activity levels after course completion. One-way analysis of variance tests were used to assess the differences in the characteristics of students enrolling in different types of health and wellness courses, and paired samples t tests were used to assess the differences in physical activity and related attitudes from the time of enrollment to the end of the semester. Results: Course selection was predicted by demographic characteristics and precourse activity levels. Overall, no significant change in activity levels was observed over the course of one semester, although some effects were observed within certain types of activities. Conclusions: When given the option, college students appear to select health and wellness courses that match their current activity levels. These courses do not significantly change the average student’s behavior or attitudes about physical activity.
Jessica L. Kutz, Melissa Bopp and Lori A. Gravish Hurtack
As the need for qualified medical and allied health professions has grown, so too have the natural feeder undergraduate programs of kinesiology across the country. With an impending “enrollment cliff,” it is necessary to assess the needs of our students and be proactive in addressing curricular issues, initiatives, internship opportunities, and academic advising support. The purpose of this article is to highlight formal and informal data collection strategies and suggest solutions to undergraduate issues that pertain to retention and success. Data from current students and alumni shed light on issues that plague kinesiology programs and present unique challenges to students as they attempt to pursue careers in the medical and allied health fields. Two R1 kinesiology programs identified similarly themed issues using informal and formal data collection approaches. Those themes were undergraduate major identification, career options, curricular issues, financial concern, and emotional fortitude. Suggested solutions and current best practices are provided to address the common themes that hold our undergraduates back from achieving their career goals.
Oliver W.A. Wilson, Scott Graupensperger, M. Blair Evans and Melissa Bopp
Background: Entering college is associated with significant lifestyle changes and the potential adoption of a lifelong lifestyle. This study examined the longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) in the hopes that findings could inform student health promotion. Methods: A total of 369 undergraduate students provided complete responses to demographic, PA, and FVC items via an online survey 3 times over a 6-month period. Random intercept cross-lagged panel modeling examined the association between PA and FVC. Results: Models demonstrated a strong fit for both moderate PA and vigorous PA. In both models, FVC, but not PA, was stable across the 3 waves. Neither model revealed a temporal association between PA and FVC. Unlike the moderate PA model, the vigorous PA model revealed a strong positive association between trait-like vigorous PA and trait-like FVC. Conclusion: The stability of FVC over time reinforces the importance of facilitating the adoption and maintenance of healthy dietary behaviors among college students, whereas the instability of PA over time highlights the importance of promoting students’ PA year round. The absence of a temporal link between PA and FVC indicates that promotion of one behavior should not be assumed to result in improvement of the other.
Melissa Bopp, Sara Wilcox, Marilyn Laken, Steven P. Hooker, Deborah Parra-Medina, Ruth Saunders, Kimberly Butler, Elizabeth A. Fallon and Lottie McClorin
Physical activity (PA) participation offers many benefits especially among ethnic groups that experience health disparities. Partnering with faith-based organizations allows for a more culturally tailored approach to changing health behaviors.
8 Steps to Fitness was a faith-based behavior-change intervention promoting PA among members of African American churches. A quasi-experimental design was used to examine differences between the intervention group (n=72) and comparison group (n = 74). Health (resting blood pressure, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, fasting blood glucose), psycho-social (PA self-efficacy, social support, enjoyment, self-regulation, depression), and behavioral variables (PA, diet) were assessed at baseline, 3- and 6-months. Repeated measures ANCOVAs tested changes across time between groups.
At 3-months, the intervention group showed significantly more favorable changes in body mass index, waist circumference and social support than the control group. At 6-months, the intervention group showed significantly more favorable changes in hip circumference, waist to hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, and depressive symptoms. There was notable attrition from both the intervention (36%) and the comparison group (58%).
This study was conducted in a real-world setting, and provided insight into how to deliver a culturally-tailored PA intervention program for African Americans with a potential for dissemination.