n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Gender- and race-related physical activity levels of South African university students s research - : sports research

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Physical inactivity and the resultant chronic diseases are becoming a global epidemic. This article reflects on physical activity levels of undergraduate students at a university in South Africa. Gender and race differences in relation to these levels were investigated. A self-reported measure of physical activity suitable to facilitate cross-cultural comparisons of physical activity levels, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), was distributed to 413 third-year students at a university campus to determine the physical activity levels of students at a South African university. An analysis of covariance was applied to check for gender and racial differences in relation to physical activity levels. Results revealed that 33% of students are inactive, irrespective of race and gender. Gender is a consistent and strong correlate of overall physical activity. Males are highly significantly (p<0.01) more physically active than females and this difference becomes more evident in vigorous exercise. In contrast to previous studies, this research found that black students demonstrate significantly higher (p<0.05) levels of physical activity than white students and that black males have significantly higher (p<0.05) physical activity levels than their white counterparts. White female students demonstrated the lowest physical activity (42.4%). Further research focussing on environmental determinants and the role of physical activity specialists in higher education, as well as intervention studies rather than descriptive studies, are recommended.

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