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The purpose of this study was to determine the physical activity patterns among female students of Kyambogo University, Uganda. A total of 150 resident female students from Kyambogo University, Uganda were purposively selected from the Faculty of Science to participate in the study. A self-developed questionnaire was used to collect data. Three focused group discussions, each comprising eight students were conducted. Both quantitative and qualitative data were analysed using percentages and themes, respectively. Dancing was one of the common physical activity engaged in by the participants (102; 69%); and 73% dance for more than 30 minutes for at least three days in a week. Fifty-four (37%) students engage in team sports specifically netball and volleyball, for more than 30 minutes and 50 (93%) reported playing for at least three days a week. Furthermore, 29% students engaged in jogging for more than 30 minutes for more than three days a week. With respect to individual sports, 20% of the students reported playing tennis for more than 30 minutes a day. Outside lecture hours, majority (64%) of the students spend more than 30 minutes a day studying for at least three days a week. Watching television (TV) was the second (64%) common passive activity students engaged in. Majority of the participants watched TV for most days of the week and 51% listened to the radio for more than 30 minutes for at least 3 days a week. Other activities reported include reading for leisure (newspapers and novels); playing computer games and board games (ludo, scrabble and cards). Ninty-four (94%) perceived engaging in physical activity for relaxation, to avoid ill-health (90%), improve muscle strength (90%); and to manage stress levels (87%). The students also indicated that physical activity ensures proper body functioning (86%), improves flexibility (83%), improves ones physical fitness (81%) and mental alertness (76%). The students perceived physical activity as enjoyable (76%) and improves body appearance (74%). Participants indicated academic workload (97%), lack of time (90%), laziness (71%), limited facilities (71%), fear of pain (67%), accessibility to available facilities (66%), financial costs (63%), safety (46%) cultural appropriateness (43%), peer support (36%) and embarrassment (27%) as factors hindering their participation in physical activity in the university. The study concludes that there is need to institute strategies to promote and encourage physical activity participation among university students.
Keywords: Physical activity, female students, perceived benefits, constraints.