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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Laura Edwards-Leeper, PhD


An important factor in weight management is physical activity. Currently only about one-fourth of both adults and high school students in the United States meet recommended physical activity levels (Rachette, Deusinger, Strub, Highstein, & Deusinger, 2005). Research examining health behaviors in college students found undergraduates have overall low physical activity levels and poor nutritional habits (Waldron & Dieser, 2010). The goal of this research study was to examine both undergraduate and graduate students’ beliefs about benefits and barriers to exercise, as well as to examine the role exercise plays in self-identity for students. It was hypothesized that undergraduate students would identify more benefits to exercise than barriers, and that graduate students would identify more barriers than benefits to exercise. The second hypothesis predicted that undergraduate students will identify more benefits to exercise than graduate students, and that graduate students would identify more barriers to exercise than undergraduate students. The third hypothesis predicted there would be a significant difference in EIS scores between undergraduate and graduate students. Results showed that both graduate and undergraduate students identified more barriers to exercise than benefits, and that there was a relationship between frequency of exercise and inclusion of exercise as part of one’s identity. Future research should include novice ways to increase both undergraduate and graduate students’ engagement in physical activity and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation for engagement in physical activity.