The impact of mental toughness on lifestyle choices in university students

Stamp, Elizabeth and Crust, Lee and Swann, Christian (2015) The impact of mental toughness on lifestyle choices in university students. In: British Association of Sport and Exercise Science Annual Conference, 1 - 2 December 2015, St George's Park, Burton-Upon-Trent.

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Abstract

Students moving to university can experience a challenging transition; potentially leading to an unhealthy lifestyle, e.g., inadequate physical activity and poor diet. Individual differences are proposed to influence adherence to healthy lifestyle choices. One individual difference relating to healthy lifestyle adherence which has not yet been explored is mental toughness. Mental toughness is a psychological determinant of how challenges and stressors are approached regardless of prevailing circumstances, and mentally tough individuals display commitment and control over stressful life events. This trait is beneficial for coping as high mentally tough individuals face challenges or new environments with confidence and as an opportunity to develop, not as a threat. Entering the unfamiliar environment of higher education has been reported to be a stressful and challenging life event. Therefore the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between mental toughness and adherence to a healthy lifestyle in university students. Following ethical approval, undergraduate students in the United kingdom completed online questionnaires assessing mental toughness (MTQ48), psychological wellbeing (Psychological well-being questionnaire), physical activity (IPAQ-SF), barriers to exercise (EBBS), eating identity (EITI) and lifestyle changes since attending university. Participants with greater mental toughness displayed greater control and commitment towards healthy lifestyle decisions. Pearson’s bivariate correlations revealed a significant and positive relationship between mental toughness and vigorous exercise (p = 0.011). Correlations between mental toughness and healthy eating identity was found to be significant and positive (P = 0.01). A significant and negative correlation was identified between mental toughness and barriers to exercise (P < 0.001). Multiple linear regression revealed mental toughness accounts for 14% of variance in exercise barriers, possibly due to the increased tolerance to pain during exercise in those who have a higher mental toughness. Mental toughness predicts 11% of variance in healthy eating identity. This may be due those with a higher mental toughness possessing greater emotional control, thus less reliant on unhealthy fatty food to relieve stress. Mental toughness assessment can be used as a potential screening tool for identifying students at risk of adopting unhealthy lifestyles. Suitable recommendations could be offered to those students to enhance adherence to healthy lifestyle choices through developing mental toughness.

Keywords:Mental Toughness, physical activity, Diet, University students
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:17773
Deposited On:09 Jul 2015 10:54

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