Factors affecting the impact of general elective courses which include physical activity on post-secondary student mental health

Date
2017-05-01
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Abstract
Post-secondary students are vulnerable to depression, anxiety and stress when faced with academic pressures. Physical activity can be beneficial in alleviating mental health symptoms, therefore, physical activity was built into curriculum of an Ontario Post-secondary general elective course. This thesis aim was to assess whether including physical activity would act as a protective barrier, mitigating further symptoms and lead to improved mental health in students. The physical activity course did not lead to improvements in mental health scores over a single semester. This may be because students who selected the physical activity course showed lower rates of anxiety and stress at baseline, so they may be already benefitting from exercise. Student answers to open ended questions indicated that tertiary administrators need to consider a wider variety of physical activity courses. This caters to a wider range of interests and abilities, leading to better outcomes by improving adherence, accessibility and self-efficacy.
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Keywords
Post-secondary, Mental health, Physical activity, Exercise, General elective course
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