Term of Award

Summer 2011

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Bridget Melton

Committee Member 1

Barry Joyner

Committee Member 2

Daniel Czech

Abstract

Freshmen are thought to be the most at risk group within the college population exhibiting levels of nutrition and physical activity well below national recommendations for health. PURPOSE: The purpose of the research project was to evaluate the effect of a Healthful Living Residential Interest Group (RIG) program on freshman exercise and nutrition habits, and physical fitness. METHODS: The Healthful Living themed RIG (n=19) within the freshman dormitories served as the intervention group and was compared to a Math themed Residential Interest Group (n=22) and a First Year Experience (FYE) course (n=23) with a physical activity focus similar to the intervention group's FYE course. Questions regarding exercise and nutrition from the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment, subject height, weight, cardiorespiratory fitness, and percent body fat were assessed at the beginning and end of the fall 2010 semester. Focus groups for the intervention group served as a program evaluation. Four questions addressed student experiences in the Healthful Living RIG (q1), most (q2) and least favorite (q3) aspects of this RIG, and opinions on RIG improvement (q4). RESULTS: Descriptive statistics revealed that overall; the intervention group exhibited more positive nutrition and exercise behaviors than the other two groups. Dependent t-test results revealed that the Healthful Living RIG was the only group that did not significantly increase body mass index or body fat percent. Focus group themes included group closeness (q1), helpfulness (q1), accountability with academics (q2), proximity (q2), conflicts and lack of autonomy with class scheduling (q3), desire for more nonacademic (q4). CONCLUSION: Numerous levels of intervention can be effective in program development for innovative ways to improve or maintain freshman health and fitness.

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