Relationships between religiosity, spirituality and health behaviors among college students
The influence of religion and spirituality on factors relating to an individual's health behaviors has emerged as an area of interest for researchers, in recent years. Religiosity (formal and informal religious practice, both public and private) and spirituality (individual's relationship to something sacred; meaning and values of one's purpose) are regarded as having extensive influence on an individual's cognitions, emotions and behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between religion, spirituality, and social support in relation to physical activity and intakes of dietary fat among a sample of college students (n = 914) from a large, public university in the southeastern United States. Data of interest were collected via a classroom-based assessment battery and analyzed. Most relationships between religiosity, spirituality, physical activity and dietary fat intake were not statistically significant. Intakes of dietary fat were found to be higher in students that reported greater levels of behavioral and functional religiosity. Greater levels of reported social support were found to be significantly related to higher levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activity. The magnitude of the relationships between the variables did not appear to be affected after controlling for demographics and social support. Overall, a few significant relationships were identified between religiosity, spirituality, physical activity and dietary fat intake, suggesting that the influence and function of religiosity and spirituality on the development and maintenance of health behaviors among college students may be small. This research has several implications for researchers and other college health professionals, with an interest in promoting chronic disease prevention through physical activity and dietary behaviors. This research provides a better understanding of the religious and spiritual landscape, as well as, the physical activity behaviors and intakes of dietary fat of college students. Thus, this examination of religiosity, spirituality, physical activity, and dietary fat intake among college students should be of interest to researchers of chronic disease prevention and to entities fostering programs to support these health-promoting behaviors.