The University of Seville researcher Carolina Castañeda has carried out a study in which she analyses the relationship between university students and sport and physical activity. Its results compile the main reasons that students do sport, have stopped doing it or have never done it, so showing the possible differences that might exist in these reasons according to the students' gender.
The study used a sample of 1085 students from the University of Seville, of which 569 were women. The average age was 21, using a random sample classified according to faculty and sex, and an ad hoc questionnaire, in which can be collected the social, environmental and individual variables that determine aspect of sport practice such as: the choice of one or various activities, frequency, intensity and persistence, among others. "The study of these variables is a key factor in favouring students taking up sport, sticking to it and not giving it up, as it allows us to know why students choose some activities and not others and the factors that determine whether they decide to continues this activity or decide to abandon it", the researcher highlights.
The results obtained show that the University of Seville students who do some physical or sports activity mainly value the reasons connected with health and social relationships. Specifically, the most valued reason was keeping in shape, closely followed by health, personal satisfaction and enjoyment. However, there were significant differences between the reasons most valued by the university's male and female students. The male students tended to choose reasons connected with enjoyment and social relationships, while the female ones gave more importance to aspects related to health and looks. This seems to support a tendency noted in earlier studies that also analysed what motivated male and female university students.
With respect to the motives for not doing sport as stated by the university's students, both those who had stopped doing physical activity and those who had never done it, the most determining reasons were external, related to availability in terms of scheduling, lack of time, and feeling tired from work or studies. Those who had never done any sports activity also highlighted important factors like laziness or lack of desire, intrinsic reasons which are related directly to the dislike of physical and sports activities.
In addition, significant differences were observed between male and female university students who has stopped doing physical activity. The female students valued more than the males a wide offer of activity suited to their interests and needs, as this was a more influential factor for them when it came to giving up doing sport.
It is noteworthy, and has been observed in numerous studies, that the lack of time, together with laziness and lack of desire are the most mentioned reasons by those who do not do any physical or sports activity in all the age ranges. In the first case, we are dealing with an external factor, which the others are internal. However, all are determining factors for the level of participation in physical activity, though all would be manageable from an educational point of view. "In the case of lack of time, it should be possible to improve time management and increase the offer of sports activities to make them available at different and more accessible times for the students. While in the other cases, more connected with dissatisfaction with doing physical activity and the lack of satisfaction when meeting specific needs, they should be able to be managed by providing a wider offer of activities, more in line with the interests of this group", Castañeda says.
Knowing these reasons, therefore, is vital for being able to develop effective long-term intervention programmes that make it possible to make doing physical and sports activities part of the healthy lifestyle of young university students.