Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise Science

Major Professor

Dixie L. Thompson

Committee Members

Eugene E. Fitzhugh, Edward T. Howley


PURPOSE: To compare: 1-the physiological profile of former athletes (Ath) and non-athletes (Non-Ath) upon college entrance, 2-PA levels in these groups, and 3-changes in physiological profile and PA level of former Ath and Non-Ath and females and males over the course of freshman year. Sixty-two college freshmen were tested during the initial weeks of the school year and again during the final weeks of the school year; the sample consisted of 32 former Ath (18 females and 14 males) and 30 Non-Ath (19 females and 11 males). METHODS: Body composition (BC) was assessed using the Bod Pod with a conversion of body density to body fat percentage (%BF) using the Siri equation. PA was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), and 7 days of steps were counted using a pedometer. RESULTS: Upon entrance into college, Ath and Non-Ath had similar BC. Daily average number of steps was similar among the groups (Ath: 11212±2729steps; Non-Ath 11191±3735). However, median MET-minutes of weekly total PA (TPA) was higher in Ath (2737 METmin/wk) than Non-Ath (1613 METmin/wk). Over the course of freshmen year, there was a significantly larger drop in TPA for Ath (-1006±2126 MET-min/wk) than Non-Ath (140±2458 MET-min/wk). Overall, Ath had a higher fat free mass (p=0.046). The overall sample experienced unhealthy changes in BC, with a significant average weight gain of 1.81 kg±2.59 kg and a significant decline in daily steps. Males had a significantly larger decline in steps than females (-2374±3720 steps/day vs. -929±2596 steps/day). The overall sample also had a significant decrease in median TPA (2134 MET-min/wk to 1725 MET-min/wk). However there was a wide variation of changes in BC and PA; some had large changes while others had small or none. CONCLUSION: Generally, there were small but unhealthy changes in BC and decreases in PA during freshman year. Former athletes enter college with initially higher activity level when compared to Non-Ath; however this difference disappears by the end of freshmen year. The key is to determine factors that contribute to the large changes in certain individuals and to pinpoint factors that influence college students’ PA behavior.

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