Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Kruse-Diehr, Aaron

Second Advisor

McDaniel, Justin


Background: As obesity continues to be a global epidemic, health professionals continue to search for effective intervention and prevention programs. As suggested early in the 20th century, sport participation creates an environment not only for one to be physically active at a particular moment, but also to cultivate and develop skills necessary to lead a physically active lifestyle across one’s lifespan. Further, sports can provide individuals with an ideal environment to cultivate the psychological constructs of resilience and self-efficacy, traits that can provide them with protective agents that support physical and mental health, thus promoting greater life satisfaction. Purpose: The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to determine the impact of previous high school sport participation on college freshmen’s current levels of exercise self-efficacy, resilience, and psychological need satisfaction in exercise; and (2) to examine relationships between demographic variables and exercise self-efficacy, resilience, and psychological need satisfaction in exercise (PNSE). Methods: A cross-sectional, stratified random sampling technique was employed to collect responses from college freshmen across the country (n = 156) using a SurveyMonkey survey instrument. ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis H tests were completed to examine differences, based on demographic and sports participation factors, on the constructs of exercise self-efficacy, resilience, and PNSE. Independent samples t tests were conducted with dichotomous demographic variables. Ordinary least squares (OLS) multiple linear regression modelling was completed to attempt to predict exercise self-efficacy, resilience, and PNSE scores for respondents based upon their demographic and sports participation variables. Results: The results of analyses indicated that both resilience and PNSE, but not self-efficacy, were associated with sports participation. High school GPA, total physical activity, having met moderate PA guidelines, and being a collegiate athlete were each associated with exercise self-efficacy. Furthermore, high school GPA, total physical activity, freshmen standing, and being a collegiate athlete were each associated with resilience. Lastly, total physical activity and moderate PA guidelines met were associated with PNSE. Conclusion: The findings of this study may support sports participation as a way to develop exercise self-efficacy, resilience, and PNSE. Collectively, these findings may support the development of a model for adolescent programming that could include the development of each of these constructs, the implications of which could positively affect both academic and athletic domains.




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