Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Accelerometry-Determined Adherence to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans among College Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Accelerometry-Determined Adherence to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans among College Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: A need exists to determine whether college students engage in sufficient physical activity (PA) using objective methodology. Purpose: Accelerometry-based activity monitors were used to evaluate adherence to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Methods: College students (N = 168) wore accelerometers for seven consecutive days. Results: The mean total minutes per day of moderate and vigorous PA were 53.9 minutes and 5.2 minutes, respectively, primarily via short intermittent bouts. When examining PA in bouts lasting the recommended minimum of 10 minutes, the average time spent per day in moderate and vigorous PA dropped to 12.5 minutes and 1.4 minutes, respectively. Thus, only 22.0% of the sample accumulated the recommended minimum of 150 minutes per week of sustained moderate-to-vigorous PA. Discussion: The findings suggest that college students intermittingly accumulate substantial moderate PA via lifestyle activities such as walking, but do not adhere to recommendations for prolonged moderate or vigorous PA. Translation to Health Education Practice: The results indicate that health education practitioners at the collegiate level should educate young adults about the increased efficiency and long-term health benefits of meeting PA recommendations by engaging in sustained moderate and vigorous activities.

Am J Health Educ. 2010;41(6):353-362. This paper was submitted to the Journal on March 18, 2010, revised and accepted for publication on August 21, 2010.

BACKGROUND

Maintaining a physically active lifestyle confers a myriad of physical and mental health benefits, including significantly decreasing the risk of several leading causes of mortality and disability, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression. (1) Moreover, lack of habitual physical activity (PA) has contributed considerably to the recent obesity epidemic that has affected all age groups in the United States. (1) In turn, the rise in obesity among today's youngest generation may contribute to the reversal of the continuous growth in life expectancy observed over the last century. As a result, members of the youngest generation today may, on average, experience greater morbidity and perhaps earlier mortality than their parents. (2)

Long-term adult health-behavior patterns are often established during the developmental transition period from childhood to adulthood. (3) A physically inactive lifestyle that develops during young adulthood (i.e., 18-25 years of age) may endure throughout the lifespan. Therefore, it is critical to determine whether one large group of young adults, college students between the ages of 18 to 22 years old, is engaging in sufficient PA. To gauge college students' PA engagement, it is necessary to make comparisons with public health recommendations. Over the past two decades, multiple national agencies have developed PA guidelines, with various degrees of frequency, intensity and duration, as a major component of health promotion and disease prevention strategies. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, (4) which suggest that adults aged 18-64 should engage in aerobic activity a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity PA, 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity PA, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity PA. Moderate-intensity is defined as PA performed at 3.0 to 5.9 times the intensity of rest (e.g., brisk walking), and vigorous-intensity is defined as PA performed at 6.0 or more times the intensity of rest (e.g., jogging or running). A caveat to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines is that moderate or vigorous PA should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes to obtain the greatest health and fitness benefits. (4)

Past research suggests that American young adults are not engaging in sufficient PA. …

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