Aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening activities are beneficial to both physical and mental health, though disparities in these behaviors exist based on social determinants. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in college students' aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening activities based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. Undergraduates enrolled in general education health and wellness courses at a large northeastern University in the United States responded to an online survey in August 2018 that assessed their demographics and physical activity behaviors. Differences in physical activity behaviors based on social determinants were examined using independent-samples t-tests and chi-square tests for independence. Less than half (40.3%) of participants (n = 606) met both aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening recommendations. No differences were found in physical activity based on sexual orientation. However, significantly more non-Hispanic white participants met aerobic physical activity (74.4% vs. 63.8%) and muscle-strengthening recommendations (47.2% vs. 37.6%); and, men reported significantly greater vigorous physical activity (p =.034, η2 = 0.01) and participation in muscle-strengthening activities (p <.001, η2 = 0.06), and were more likely to meet muscle-strengthening recommendations compared to women (50.8% vs. 41.4%). Findings demonstrate disparities in physical activity based on race and sex, particularly with respect to muscle-strengthening activities. Findings are of concern given the importance of muscle-strengthening activities to both physical and mental health. Colleges should consider ways in which they can facilitate increased participation of racial/ethnic minorities and women in muscle-strengthening activities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health