More Than a Fitness Studio: The role of collegiate recreation group exercise programs in undergraduate student wellbeing

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Virginia Tech


Much research has shown that regular physical activity influences both physiological and psychological health. More specifically, physical activity positively impacts wellbeing, across physical, emotional and social wellness. Furthermore, group-based physical activity has been linked to increasing adherence to an exercise protocol as well as improving social connectedness. For college students, collegiate recreation facilities are the main providers of physical activity services and programming for the campus population to utilize. In the collegiate recreation literature, several university studies have pointed out that students who participate in their recreational facilities and programs have benefited from positive feelings of wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact that Virginia Tech Recreational Sports' group-based fitness programming has on Virginia Tech students' overall wellbeing. Wellbeing was defined by six dimensions: career (or sense of purpose), social, financial, community, physical and emotional. This study used a concurrent explanatory mixed methods design, composed of a brief cross-sectional survey and focus groups. This work simultaneously contributes to collegiate recreation by providing evidence that students who utilize facilities and programs have higher perceptions of wellbeing as well as highlighting suggested strategies for improvement including resource limitations and communication barriers. Finally, in terms of group fitness and wellbeing, this thesis provides preliminary evidence that those who participate in collegiate group exercise programs have higher perceptions of physical and social wellbeing.



wellbeing, group-based physical activity, recreational sports, student affairs