2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Research over the past fifty years has shown the benefits of regular physical activity enhancing physical fitness, reducing stress, and creating an overall sense of well-being. These effects are particularly important to college students, who often experience significant stress and sacrifice health during their time in college. Adequate sleep and breakfast are often neglected in young adults attending college. The relationship between physical activity, sleeping patterns, and breakfast patterns was examined in 205 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 106 female students and 99 male students. The students completed surveys which inquired into the level of physical activity (on a scale from 1=low to 5=high), frequency of the physical activity, time spent sleeping each night, and frequency of breakfast consumption. High school and college Body Mass Index (BMI) was also calculated to observe how these factors related to current weight status. It was found that students who are classified as overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9) skip breakfast more often, sleep more hours, engage in lower intensity physical activity, and engage in the physical activity less often than normal weight students (BMI 18.5-24.9). Normal BMI was related to sleeping an average of 7.32 +/-1.12 hours per night, skipping breakfast an average of 2 days a week, and engaging in physical activity 4 +/- 1.34 days per week. Students who engaged in the most intense workouts slept on average 8 hours a night, and did not skip breakfast throughout the week (3.36+/-.91 intensity; 3.45+/-.97 intensity respectively). The results confirm that healthy physical activity levels, along with proper sleeping and breakfast patterns all play a vital role in maintaining the healthy weight of college students.