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Physical Activity and Transitioning to College: The Importance of Intentions and Habits

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Objectives: First generation students transitioning to college experience specific challenges that impact on their engagement in physical activity. Furthermore, this population experiences a context disruption that provides a unique opportunity to examine whether intention and habit predict physical activity. The aim of the current research was to determine the efficacy of the theory of planned behavior in the prediction of intention and behavior within this population, and to determine whether habit contributes to the prediction of physical activity. Methods: In this observational study, a convenience sample of first generation college students (N = 101) completed measures of theory of planned behavior variables and habit strength at Time 1, and one week later reported physical activity. Results: The theory of planned behavior was partially supported in this context, as intention was the only significant predictor of behavior. Habit strength accounted for additional variance in physical activity but did not moderate the relationship between intention and behavior. The hypothesized model accounted for 46.9% of the variance in physical activity, and intention (β = .455) and habit (β = .364) were significant predictors. Conclusions: Intention and habit exert independent effects on physical activity within this population, and are both suitable targets for intervention.
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Keywords: HABIT; INTENTION; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; TRANSITIONING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Post-doctoral Researcher, Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Australia 2: Associate Professor, Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Australia 3: Research Assistant, Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Australia 4: Senior Lecturer, Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Australia;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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