Physical inactivity has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease, obesity, and hypertension, yet 25 percent of adults do not exercise at all. Another 50 percent are not active enough for health benefits. Even if someone starts an exercise program, there is a 50 percent chance he or she will drop out within six months. Physical activity levels decrease with age, and 54 percent of adults do not continue an active lifestyle beyond their school years. It is hypothesized that long term exercise adherence can be enhanced if teaching strategies in college physical activity classes are matched to specific characteristics of the students. The purpose of this research project is to compare a personalized physical education curriculum with the traditional curriculum used in the conditioning activity classes at The Ohio State University. Specific teaching protocols will be applied to students based on their psychosocial profile and exercise history. Two cohorts will be created from students enrolled in aerobic dance, jogging, and weight training classes during the Autumn Quarter, 1998 and Spring Quarter, 1999. Classes will be randomly assigned to a treatment or control curriculum. Students in the treatment classes will be placed on teams based on exercise history using the Stages of Change Model and psychosocial characteristics as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Subject-matched curriculums will be implemented in the treatment classes and classes will be compared on overall attendance and student evaluations. Subjects will be retested for 2.5 years after the class is over, at 6-month intervals. Changes in psychosocial variables, physiological variables, cardiovascular heart diseases (CHD) risk factors, and self-report of physical activity will be used to determine the effectiveness of the treatment curriculum as a function of exercise mode. Thus, the proposed research will: (1) determine the effects of a personalized vs. a traditional physical education curriculum on physical activity behavior, fitness, and CHD risk factors; and (2) assess the effects of the treatment program on exercise adherence for 2.5 years after the class is over.
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