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Health promoting behaviors and exercise stages of change levels of university students at transition to university

Ebem, Zeynep
The purposes of this study were to examine (a) health promoting behaviors, (b) physical activity levels, (c) exercise stages of change levels, and (d) exercise preferences of students who had just entered the university by gender and residence. Participants were 438 students from Middle East Technical University (METU) English Preparatory school. Adolescent Health Promotion Scale (AHPS), International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), Physical Activity Stages of Change Questionnaire (PASCQ), and Physical Activity Preferences Check-list were used for the data collection. Descriptive statistics, nonparametric statistical methods (Mann Whitney U test, Pearson chi-square test), and a one-way MANOVA were used for the data analysis. According to AHPS results, female students’ health promoting behaviors were better than those of male students except exercise behavior. Students living at home had higher scores on nutrition behavior and students living in dormitory had higher scores on stress management behavior (p < .05). According to the IPAQ results, male students were more physically active than female counterparts. Students who were living in dormitory had higher physical activity levels than students living at home (p < .05). PASCQ findings indicated no significant differences on the exercise stages of change levels by gender and residence (p > .05). In general, students were at pre-contemplation 9.2%, contemplation 39.3%, preparation 27.8%, action 14.5%, and maintenance 9.2% stages. Swimming, walking, and table tennis were the three most frequently preferred physical activities. In conclusion, female students had better health promoting behaviors than those of male students except exercise behavior. Female students and students living at home were more at risk of inactivity. Approximately 80% of the METU English Preparatory school students’ physical activity levels were not satisfactory for a healthy life. University physical activity facilities, extracurricular programs and the courses should be reconsidered to support the health promoting behaviors of these students.