Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


University of Northern Iowa--Students--Recreation; Beijing da xue--Students--Recreation; Beijing da xue; University of Northern Iowa; College students--Recreation--Iowa--Cedar Falls; College students--Recreation--China--Beijing; College students--Recreation; Students--Recreation; China--Beijing; Iowa--Cedar Falls;


The benefits associated with regular physical activity have been well documented in recent years. Numerous studies have investigated physical activity patterns among children, adolescents, and adults, yet little work to date has examined the patterns of habitual physical activity participation among pre-service physical education (PE) majors. Furthermore, inasmuch as physical activity affords health benefits irrespective of one's nationality or culture, comparisons among the peoples of nations around the world becomes of greater interest.

This study was designed to examine the leisure-time physical activity patterns of physical education major students in selected institutions from the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the United States (U.S.). Data were collected from 184 PE major students enrolled in Beijing University of Physical Education (n = 98) and the University of Northern Iowa (n = 86) during April 1998 using a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire was an adaptation of the Modifiable Activity Questionnaire designed to assess physical activity participation patterns and behaviors. With the exception of a few questions that were modified to reflect cultural differences, the questionnaires were identical.

Results indicated that physical education major students in both the United States and China are more active than the general adult population. Approximately 62% of PRC students and 80% of U.S. students reported participation in leisure-time physical activities three or more of the previous seven days. U.S. students are generally more active than PRC students during their leisure-time, but less active during physical education activity classes. Students' preference of leisure-time physical activities as well as exercise behaviors often reflects cultural and ethnic differences between the two countries. Jogging and basketball were identified as the two most frequently participated in leisure-time physical activities for both PRC and U.S. students. For PRC students, the next most prevalent activities were swimming, soccer, ping-pong, and volleyball; while U.S. students reported weight training, bicycling, softball/baseball, and dancing. Results from the past-year physical activity participation of both groups indicated a notable seasonal variation in participation rates among the most common activities.

There is considerable variance in the reasons for physical activity participation among physical education major students in the United States and China. For U.S. students, reasons related to self-feelings of physical activity participation were rated the most important. For PRC students, to improve fitness and develop sport skills were ranked higher than the reasons related to individual feelings. Although there were a few notable differences between the PRC and U.S. students, for the most part, the relative importance of the reasons given for discontinuing their physical activity participation was similar.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Larry D. Hensley

Second Advisor

Sharon Huddleston

Third Advisor

Tom Davis


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (94 leaves)