Relations among Physical Fitness Knowledge, Physical Fitness, and Physical Activity



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study is to examine the relations among health-related fitness knowledge (HRFK), physical fitness (PF), and physical activity (PA) in a college-aged adult population. This issue is particularly important because of the growing concerns over declining health and weight control and the pressing need to comprehend the underlying mechanisms that will lead to greater levels of fitness and adherence to exercise. Participants included 191 (79 females, 112 males) college students (non-Hispanic White; 70.2 %) with ages ranging from 18-25 years (M = 20.3). Participants’ HRFK (independent variable) was tested using the FitSmart Test (Zhu et al., 1999). Dependent variables for this study included: a) a PF composite score of seven different testing variables including muscular strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, and body composition, b) self-report PA as measured by the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (LTEQ) and c) triaxial accelerometery. Results from this study point to a number of important findings. First, college students’ HRFK was very low with well over half of the participants having a score of 70% or lower. Second, analysis of data using sequential regressions indicated there was a significant relationship between HRFK and Fitness, Δ R2 = .018, p = .037; and HRFK and Fitness without body composition (FNBC), Δ R2 = .031, p = .009. Third, a sequential regression including HRFK and years of high school sports (HSS) indicated HSS was the strongest indicator of PF, Δ R2 = .110, p < .001; FNBC, Δ R2 = .169, p < .001,; and self-report PA, Δ R2 = .033, p = .024 while HRFK contributed to the regression model. Overall, results indicate that HRFK is associated with PF levels in college-aged students though to a limited degree. This modest finding, however, points to the critical nature of HRFK even among the youngest and most active group of adults whose past experience with organized sports dominates their rationale for future physical activity. It seems likely that HRFK would be even more important as adults advance in age. Future researchers, therefore, should continue to examine links between fitness and knowledge among adults in diverse stages of the life span.