What Psychosocial Factors Determine the Physical Activity Patterns of University Students?

Joseph Murphy, Ciaran McDonccha, Marie H Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Alan Nevill, Catherine Woods

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    11 Citations (Scopus)
    33 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Although levels of physical activity (PA) have been researched, no information on how university students organize their PA across different life domains is available. The purpose of this study is to explore if and how students organize their PA across transport and recreational domains, and to identify the psychosocial factors related to these patterns. Methods: Students from 31 Irish universities completed a supervised online survey measuring participant characteristics, psychosocial factors, and PA. Two-step cluster analysis was used to identify specific PA patterns in students. Binary logistic regressions identified factors associated with cluster membership while controlling for age, sex, household income, and perceived travel time to a university. Results: Analysis was performed on 6951 students (50.7% male; 21.51 [5.55] y). One Low Active cluster emerged. Four clusters containing a form of PA emerged including Active Commuters, Active in University, Active Outside University, and High Active. Increases in motivation and planning improved the likelihood of students being categorized in a cluster containing PA. Conclusion: One size does not fit all when it comes to students PA engagement, with 5 patterns identified. Health professionals are advised to incorporate strategies for increasing students’ motivation, action planning, and coping planning into future PA promotion efforts
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)325-332
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
    Issue number5
    Early online date13 Apr 2019
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2019


    • Active commuting
    • Cluster analysis
    • Psychology
    • Youth


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