Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.S.E.S. in Exercise Science

Department

Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Martha A. Bass

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

A majority of college students do not maintain healthy lifestyle practices. Few college students achieve recommendations for adequate nutrition and instead typically consume diets high in fat, sodium, and sugar and low in fruits and vegetables. In addition, few college students meet current physical activity recommendations, and 40-50% do not exercise at all. Life satisfaction is associated with low levels of stress, academic achievement, goal progression, and personal growth initiative, all of which contribute to success in college as well as the transition from college into the working world. Exercise, fruit and vegetable intake, and avoidance of fat intake are all associated with increased life satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to assess the dietary intake and exercise frequency of a college-aged population as those variables related to students' perceived life satisfaction. An online questionnaire was completed by 574 undergraduate students attending the University of Mississippi and 664 undergraduate students attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (N=1,238). Overall, significant associations were found between life satisfaction and fruit intake, whole grain intake, low fat intake, vigorous exercise, moderate exercise, total exercise, physical activity, and BMI in all participants. Logistic regression determined that fruit intake, vigorous exercise, and physical activity positively influence life satisfaction, while fiber intake and BMI negatively influence life satisfaction. Higher levels of satisfaction were reported by individuals who consumed fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat foods on a daily basis as well as individuals who engaged in vigorous exercise, moderate exercise, and physical activity. Further studies are needed to more fully determine the contributing factors of life satisfaction in college students.

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