- Offering courses that promote, encourage, and support physical activity
among college students has been an aim of physical education departments for the
past century (Sargeant, 1900). Even so, this population has been identified in
Healthy People 2010 as a target population segment in need of physical activity
intervention. Historically, such coursework has almost exclusively been activity and
skill-based, which made it particularly appealing to students who were already
active while those who were not physically active generally avoided such courses
(Scantling, Strand, Lackey, & McAleese, 1995).
Over time, alternative courses and course formats began to evolve,
including conceptually-based Lifetime Fitness for Health (LFH) courses (Corbin,
1969). Such courses were designed to promote wellness-related behaviors among
college students, including physical activity participation. These courses have
increased in popularity over the past 30 years (Hensley, 2001) and are now
included by some colleges and universities as part of the students' graduation
requirements (Cardinal, Jacques, & Levi, 2002).
Some colleges and universities have also begun offering on-line versions of
their LFH courses (Conlee, 2000), but little research has been done on the
effectiveness of these courses and the influences delivery format (i.e. face-to-face
vs. web-based) may have.
The purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of a
theoretically-based, LFH course on college students' behavioral and psychological
physical activity orientation. The independent variables were course format (i.e.,
face-to-face vs. web-based vs. control) and time (i.e., baseline and post-intervention).
The study was conducted over 10 weeks, using intact groups.
The dependent variables were exercise behavior, and self-efficacy,
decisional balance, and the behavioral and cognitive processes of change (all from
the Transtheoretical Model). Of the initial 151 people enrolled in the study, 109
(72.2%) returned post-intervention questionnaires and were therefore retained in
the study. Retention rates did not differ across groups (p>.30). The majority of
participants were female (60.3%), Caucasian (81.5%), and held either freshman or
sophomore class standing (80.1%). Participants were, on average, 21.3 (SD = 5.7)
years old, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 24.3 (SD=5.4). The majority of
participants were in the preparation stage of change (45.7%), followed by
maintenance (35.1%), action (12.6%), contemplation (5.3%), and precontemplation
Exercise behavior improved significantly over time (p<.0 1); however, the
main effect for groups (p=.06), and the group by time interaction were not
significant (p=.31). Significant main effects were observed between groups (p<.01), and over time (p<.01) for the vector of means comprised of self-efficacy,
decisional balance, and the cognitive and behavioral processes of change. The
group by time interaction for the vector of means was not significant (p=.17).
Follow-up F-tests revealed the group differences were due to differences in
the cognitive (p<.05) and behavioral (p<.05) processes of change, with no
differences observed for either self-efficacy (p=.35) or decisional balance (p=96). Time effects were observed for self-efficacy (p<.05), and the cognitive (p<.001) and behavioral (p<.01)processes of change, with no difference observed on
decisional balance (p=.39). While not entirely supportive, the results due suggest
some promising strategies for enhancing the efficacy of LFH courses, regardless of