Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Howie-Hickey, Erin

Committee Member/Reader

Gray, Michelle


Background. There is limited knowledge on whether college students are as fit as they believe themselves to be, or if discovering discrepancies in their understanding of their fitness will impact their behavior. Purpose. The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of fitness in college students and the effect fitness testing has on future behavior and intentions. Methodology. A sample of 28 undergraduates at the University of Arkansas, ages 18 to 25, were recruited to participate in an in-person fitness assessment during which, the five health-related components of fitness were measured. Prior to the assessment, participants were asked a series of questions regarding their expectations for performance and then their fitness test results were compared to their perceived fitness levels using weighted kappa. Participant’s intentions to make changes were measured using a short questionnaire administered before the assessment, after receiving results and 4 weeks following fitness assessment. Responses before and immediately after receiving results were compared and analyzed by a Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed rank test. Responses from immediately after receiving results were also compared to the responses from one month later to see if intention changes were sustained. To measure changes in physical activity, participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days following the fitness test and then again for 7 days approximately four weeks later. Accelerometer data was analyzed by Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed rank tests to identify differences between daily activity levels prior to and one month following the fitness test intervention and differences were used to determine behavior changes. Results. The study consisted of 14 males and 14 females with a median age of 21.75 and average percent body fat of 26.4%. Results indicated that initial perceptions and actual fitness levels had slight to fair agreement in each category (k = 0.19 – 0.39). Change in a person’s intentions were observed from time 1 to time 2 (p =Discussion. Results from the comparison of perceptions to actual fitness levels showed limited overlap, supporting the hypothesis that fitness testing is needed to educate a person on their physical fitness. Furthermore, a change in intentions following the fitness assessment indicates the effectiveness of fitness testing as a method of increasing intentions. A lack of change between time 2 and 3 suggests that these intentions are sustained over a period of about 4 weeks. However, the lack of change in physical activity levels demonstrates that increasing intentions does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior.


Perceptions, Intentions, Fitness Testing