Leisure, Lifestyle, and Health-Related Physical Fitness for College Students

Article excerpt

Leisure is important for everyone. Adolescents are in a critical period of personality development and social adaptability during which they experience substantial qualitative and quantitative changes in physical, psychological, emotional, moral, and social development. Therefore, appropriate leisure activities could help adolescents with future healthy growth and lifetime happiness (National Youth Commission, 1993)

According to the findings from the results of a survey of time allocation by college students (Ministry of Education, 2003), in their spare time college students in Taiwan spent an average of up to 2.8 hours (2 hours and 48 minutes) on the Internet each day, 2.06 hours (2 hours and 4 minutes) on school homework, 0.28 hours (17 minutes) on club or student association activities, and 4.1 hours (4 hours and 6 minutes) on other activities. As a result, on average, time allocations for a Taiwanese college student were: 9.53 hours (40% of a day) time taken up maintaining health (eating, sleeping, etc.), 5.23 hours (22%) time devoted to study and commuting, and 9.25 hours (38%) free time. College students have been highly independent and have ample time for personal planning of leisure activities and life. Without suitable guidance or a concept of leisure participation that enables them to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual balance, they could easily waste precious time in their youth. Education and public policies should advocate strengthening public knowledge of leisure to nurture the concept of utilizing leisure time more effectively.

In this study, we examined the leisure lifestyles and health-related physical fitness of college students. Our research question was: How do leisure lifestyles affect health-related physical fitness? This was further analyzed in the following three research questions:

1. What are the characteristics of the leisure lifestyle for college students?

2. Which groups can be identified based on students' leisure lifestyle?

3. To what extent can students' level of health-related physical fitness be predicted on the basis of their leisure lifestyle?

Lifestyle and Leisure Lifestyle

According to Hawkins, Best, and Coney (2004), lifestyle is how we live our lives. Lazer (1963) stated that lifestyle is a systematic concept representing the characteristics of the life pattern of a society or a community that are distinct compared to the characteristics of any other society or community. Cook, Yale, and Marqua (2002) defined lifestyle as a way of living in terms of how people spent their time (activity), what they believe is important (interest), and which things about themselves or their surroundings they take into consideration (opinion). Cordes and Ibrahim (1999) identified nine lifestyles existing in the US, and they are survivors, sustainers, belongers, emulators, achievers, I am me, experiential, socially conscious, and integrated. In short, lifestyle is the pattern of social life and behavior of an individual or a group.

Since the 1970s, the concept of lifestyle has started to draw attention in the field of leisure research. Perreault, Darden, and Darden (1977) described how individual lifestyles reflect individual activities, interests, and opinions, and, by analogy, various aspects of life that include leisure behavior and vacation patterns. Leisure lifestyle refers to people's leisure-related behavior in terms of attitude, perception, and activity behavior in the context of daily living. In this research leisure lifestyle refers to people's daily patterns of leisure activity.

The task of quantification of lifestyle was originally termed psychological statistics (Hawkins et al., 2004). Psychological statistics measure lifestyle by activity, interest, and opinion (AIO) dimensions as classified by Wells and Tigert (1971): that is, activity, being a tangible activity, for example, watching television or shopping; interest, defined as the degree of excitement that people have about certain things or subjects, that can draw special and sustained attention from them; and opinion, referring to the oral or written response given by individuals to situations resulting from external stimulation. …