African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Attitudes of female university students towards participation in sports

S.A. Nxumalo, S.D. Edwards


Chronic non-communicable diseases continue to present a global health problem despite increasing acknowledgement that lifestyle behaviours, including regular exercise, prevent and help to manage many of these conditions. The problem of obesity and associated conditions among black women in Africa is of particular concern. University life can perpetuate poor lifestyle habits in the young. Individuals’ health-related behaviours could be linked to attitude but no studies to date have explored such links, particularly in respect of black undergraduate women. Our aim was to characterise the attitudes towards participation in sporting activities of isiZulu-speaking female students at the University of Zululand, South Africa. Using a selfadministered questionnaire, we surveyed a non-random sample of 1 004 students who did not participate in physical exercise or sport and a sample of 292 who did. The students were recruited from all four faculties at the university. Quantitative data analysis was performed and a Cronbach Alpha reliability test was conducted to ensure the internal consistency of the items. We found that the non-participants did not participate in sport for fear of injury, and because obtaining a degree was more important to them than physical activity; they gave a low ranking to healthrelated benefits of sport. Those who participated in sport did so for the prospect of money and fame; they also gave a low ranking to the health-related benefits of physical activity. The study highlights the need for sustained interventions to educate, demystify misconceptions, and introduce more social sports to attract women students to sport participation.

Keywords: Female students, physical activity, sport participation, University of Zululand,
South Africa.

AJOL African Journals Online