Accessing physical activity among young adults attending a university: the role of sex, race/ethnicity, technology use, and sleep. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Identifying factors associated with recommended physical activity (PA) levels are critical in efforts to combat the obesity epidemic and related comorbidities. METHODS: We conducted cross-sectional analyses of college students (n=490) enrolled in a large southern state university in October of 2014. Our aim was to identify sociodemographic characteristics, technology use, and sleep patterns among college students and their independent relationship to recommended PA. An online survey was sent to all enrolled students. Logistic regression predicted achieving recommended 150min per week of moderate-vigorous PA (MVPA) versus not (149min MVPA). RESULTS: Approximately 69% of study participants were males, 18% were Hispanic, and more than half (60%) were within the normal body mass index (12% were obese). The average age of students was 21years. On a daily average, individuals used smartphones most often (nearly 4.4h), followed by laptops at 4.0h, desktops at 1.2h, and tablets at 0.6h. The mean number of hours individuals reported sleeping was 6.7. Sociodemographic factors associated with reporting 150min of MVPA included being male (OR=4.0, 95% CI 2.2-7.1) versus female, being non-Hispanic White (OR=1.8, CI 1.1-3.2) versus being a member of minority race group. Behavioral factors associated with reporting 150min of MVPA included technology use (being moderate-heavy (OR=2.3, CI 1.1-4.8) or heavy (OR=3.4, CI 1.6-7.5) users of technology), and receiving low-moderate (OR=1.9, 1.01-3.7) levels of sleep versus the lowest level of sleep. CONCLUSIONS: In the current study, minority status and being female were the strongest sociodemographic factors associated with inadequate PA levels, while high technology use (primarily driven by smartphone use) were associated with recommended PA levels. Identifying factors associated with being physically active will allow for targeted interventions to improve the health of young adults.

published proceedings

  • BMC Public Health

altmetric score

  • 4.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Towne, S. D., Ory, M. G., Smith, M. L., Peres, S. C., Pickens, A. W., Mehta, R. K., & Benden, M.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Towne, Samuel D||Ory, Marcia G||Smith, Matthew Lee||Peres, S Camille||Pickens, Adam W||Mehta, Ranjana K||Benden, Mark

publication date

  • January 2017