Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy Mohr


Attitude to Health; Exercise; Health Behavior; Life Style; Physical Fitness


Background and Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the barriers and facilitators to a healthy diet and physical activity of students attending the University of North Dakota. The research was designed to determine the students overall perception of the specific barriers and facilitators, however researchers also wanted to specify disparities existing among the different ages, genders, physical activity levels, body mass index and ethnicity. This study determined the attitudes and beliefs of UND students towards a healthy lifestyle. From the information gathered the researchers were able to make recommendations for program implementation and improvement.

Methods: A sample of 50 UND students was obtained from 1,931 randomized e-mail applications sent through the UND registrar's office. The data was collected by using the qualitative nominal focus group technique, with a total of 10 focus groups being conducted by the researchers. Data analysis was completed using open thematic coding and weighted analysis.

Results: The top 4 perceived barriers for eating healthy included availability, time, cost/money and social factors. The highest ranked implications/facilitators to address these barriers included healthy options, education, meal plan and store location. The top 4 perceived barriers to physical activity included time, weather conditions, motivation and individual goals. The highest ranked implications/facilitators to address these barriers included promotion/Ads, Hours, 24hr. gym, activities and PEX courses.

Conclusion and Discussion: With low physical activity (P A) and poor dietary habits an ever present issue across the United States, finding the underlying cause in the University setting may have good implications for future interventions addressing these issues. The results of this study allowed researchers to make recommendations for implementing and improving programs at the University of North Dakota regarding healthy lifestyles.