Influence of previous participation in physical activity on its perceptions among tertiary institution students

06 Aug 2012

Physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of the major non-communicable diseases, which contribute substantially to the global burden of diseases, death and disability. The burden of mortality, morbidity and disability attributable to non-communicable diseases is currently greatest and is continually growing in the developing countries. Most declines in physical activity (PA) occur during the transition period when a person goes from high school to College or University. The objectives of this study were to identify perceived benefits of and barriers to PA and determine whether previous participation in PA does have an influence on these perceptions. A cross- sectional and descriptive study with quantitative design was conducted. Five hundred (500) tertiary institution students were randomly sampled from purposively selected departments and classes at each of the five government educational tertiary institutions in Rwanda. A pre-coded self-administered questionnaire with a small number of open-ended questions was administered to the students. A response rate of 425 (85%) was obtained. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data, by means of SAS version 8 software. Frequencies and percentages for mean score values with standard deviations for each perception variable were descriptively obtained. False Discovery Rate (FDR) at 5% for multiple test adjustment and Spearman’s correlation (r) tests were used to identify the significant influence of previous participation on perceptions. More than 70% students were not participating in PA at tertiary level. Psychological benefits of PA were some of the most important perceived benefits cited by the students. Most of the important barriers cited concerned equipment and time constraints to exercising. Associations were found between previous participation and the current perceptions of PA. The findings of this study demonstrate that previous participation can influence perceptions of PA among the students. Physical activity promotion programmes should consider the role of these factors which should be emphasised from childhood.