Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Paula-Marie Ferrara, Kinesiology

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Researchers suggest that physical activity promotion may be necessary to preserve former athletes' long-term health and transition out of sport in retirement. Exploratory research has revealed that the fitness perceptions (a known contributor to exercise behavior) of former high school athletes (FHSAs) who do not continue sports in college fluctuate over the course of their freshman year. To inform potential intervention efforts in this population, the purpose of this study was to explore why FHSAs' perceptions of fitness vary over their freshman year of college. Methods: Participants completed eight online surveys over their first year of college, within which they explained their present perceptions of their fitness via an open-ended response. These responses were thematically analyzed by survey and a frequency analysis was conducted to determine how often each theme appeared over time. Results: Thirty-five participants completed the surveys (28 women, 18±0 years). Sixteen themes were constructed that occurred anywhere from 1-7 times (M±SD: 3±2) across the eight surveys. Themes incorporated, but were not limited to, factors including perceptions of body image, maintaining a consistent routine and effort toward exercise, comparison to past athleticism, and varying degrees of acceptance of fitness given barriers associated with their college and sports transition. Conclusion: Common themes mentioned by participants fluctuated over time. Certain themes (i.e., "body image considerations," "putting in effort to maintain exercise," "seeks to improve fitness") were constructed across multiple surveys, indicating these factors were more constant in contributing to participants' perceptions of fitness over time than others that occurred less frequently (i.e., "desires previous high school fitness," "physical ailments," "no change/continuing usual routine"). Understanding how these factors fluctuate and affect fitness perceptions over the course of FHSAs' transition provides key information that will aid in creating more specific and effective behavioral interventions in the future for this population.


Title on poster differs from abstract booklet. Poster title: Temporal Analysis of Former High School Athletes' Perceptions of Fitness Upon Entering College

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Kinesiology Commons