Associations Between College/University Physical Activity Requirements and Student Physical Activity

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Research quarterly for exercise and sport




College/university; physical activity; policy; requirement; student


Most U.S. college students do not meet physical activity guidelines. Physical activity requirements (PAR) are a proposed solution for increasing undergraduate physical activity. To determine whether college/university PAR are associated with undergraduates' self-reported physical activity. Undergraduate students (N = 383,632) attending colleges and universities taking part in the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II survey (2015-2019) self-reported physical activity and demographics. Using websites and course catalogs, researchers coded schools to indicate binary PAR status. Bayesian Hierarchical Logistic Regression was used to determine the percentage of students meeting physical activity guidelines; interactions between PAR status and student characteristics (sex, BMI) were examined. PAR status was positively associated with percent of students meeting physical activity guidelines (PAR: 43.3%, without: 40.5%; difference score 95% Highest Density Interval [HDI; 1.0, 4.5]). A greater percentage of students attending schools with PAR, versus without, met physical activity guidelines across all categories of sex and weight. However, the positive relationship between PAR status and physical activity was stronger among male students (PAR: 46.7%, without: 43.2%; 95% HDI [1.6, 5.4]) compared to female students (PAR: 39.9%, without: 37.9%; 95% HCI [0.2, 3.8]), and among students with underweight (PAR: 39.2%, without: 35.5%; 95% HDI [1.2, 6.3]) or obesity (PAR: 37.1%, without: 33.7%; 95% HDI [1.4, 5.3]) compared to normal weight (PAR: 49.3%, without: 47.4%; 95% HDI [0.1, 3.7]) or overweight (PAR: 47.5%, without: 45.5%; 95% HDI [0.1, 4.0]). PAR are associated with meeting physical activity guidelines, particularly among college/university students with underweight or obesity.


Prevention and Community Health