Physical activity and lifestyle habits of female undergraduate students
Introduction: There is an extensive body of empirical evidence which demonstrates health benefits of physical activity. PA is associated with lower mortality rates for female students. Young female adults attending universities gain increased control over their lifestyles, however don’t necessarily develop positive behaviours like regular PA. Aims: To determine PA levels and lifestyle habits of female undergraduate students.Three objectives were set out for this research: (1) To identify PA levels of the female undergraduate students at the University of the Free State campus using a validated self-reported measure instrument; and (2) To establish the lifestyle profile and body composition of undergraduate female students attending this Tertiary Institution and (3) to determine the impact of ethnicity on PA levels, lifestyle habits and body composition of undergraduate female students attending a tertiary institution. Methods: A quantitative approach, using a one-time non-randomized cross-sectional study approach was used. Ethical clearance was obtained and participants completed the Belloc and Breslow’s lifestyle questionnaire and IPAQ questionnaire. Anthropometric testing was then conducted on the participants. Results: The PA levels of the students was determined with a total of 68% participating in PA. There was an increase in the participation in PA from first year (62.3%) to third year (79.4%). This increase was also evident in the mean MET minutes/week from first year through to third year. The majority of the students were considered to be moderately healthy. There were however no statistically significant associations in PA and lifestyle habits between ethnicity and year groups. Conclusion: An increase in the PA frequency as well as the mean MET minutes/week from first year to third year was found. The ethnic groups on the other hand didn’t show significant differences among their lifestyle habits, PA levels and body composition This proved that students improved to high levels of PA and are aware of the health benefits.