Non Technical Summary
Physical activity has been identified as an important behavior to help prevent the development of overweight/obesity and associated conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Regular physical activity has also been found to improve dietary intake and patterns. Therefore, interventions targeting physical activity may lead to weight change not only by increasing calories expended each day, but also by influencing the food choices people make. This study will provide new information on the efficacy of using monetary incentives to help college freshmen meet physical activity guidelines, and therefore establish an important health-promoting behavior. It has been well documented that during the transition from high school to college students gain weight, and do not establish behaviors that may help combat weight gain such as a regular physical activity routine. Aside from any benefits on weight, increasing physical activity can lead to improved mental and physical health, which may in turn positively benefit freshmen students' general quality of life. Furthermore, developing novel ways to help young adults stay healthy has far-reaching consequences on the United States' workforce, economy, and health-care industry, as one's adolescent habits and weight status have been shown to track into adulthood.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The overall goal of this project is to increase physical activity behavior in college students as a way to prevent weigth gain upon matriculation. Specifically, the aims are as follows: 1.Increase fitness center use by college freshmen; 2.Evaluate persistence of fitness center use; 3. Evaluate change in body mass index for students enrolled in the study during both fall and spring semesters.
One hundred and seventeen students will be randomized to one of three groups: continued-incentives, discontinued-incentives, or control. For 12 weeks during the fall semester both the continued-incentive and discontinued-incentive groups will receive weekly incentives for using the university fitness center. At the conclusion of fall semester weekly incentive payouts will end for both incentive groups. For 12 weeks during spring semester the discontinued-incentive group will receive no incentives to use the fitness center while the continued-incentive group will receive incentives on a variable-interval schedule, averaging one incentive payment each month. During the spring semester the exact schedule for the incentives will not be known to participants in this group. Outcome measures will be collected at baseline and throughout fall and spring semesters. The primary outcome is fitness center use, which will be monitored by the electronic fitness center entrance and exit records as well as periodic accelerometer use. The predictor variable is the presence or absence of monetary incentives. Other outcomes that will be measured include weight, height, and BMI.