Perception of Physical Activity Participation of Chinese Female Graduate Students: A Case Study

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


SHAPE America

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

Purpose: Chinese female international students (CFIS) have been identified as one of the least physically active groups in the United States. In an effort to better understand this situation, this study's purpose was to examine CFIS in American higher education in terms of the meaning they assigned to physical activity and facilitators and barriers they experienced with regard to physical activity participation. Method: Twenty CFIS from a university in the Northwest region of the United States were recruited and interviewed. All of the interviews were conducted in Mandarin Chinese and translated and transcribed into English. The 1-on-l semistructured interviews lasted between 45 min and 60 min each. Data were analyzed by NVivo8. Results: In terms of meaning, physical activity provided the participants with a break from their academic work, allowed them some alone time, and taught them a process for accomplishing other things in their lives. Major facilitators included social influences, ample available resources, their changing perceptions of femininity, and the need to improve or maintain health. Barriers included a lack of time, low self-efficacy, limited social support, cultural barriers, and a lack of "how-to" information. Conclusions: Understanding the physical activity experiences of CFIS is an important step in the process of promoting their long-term health and well-being. It may behoove universities with growing Chinese international student populations to add more cross-cultural content into their curriculums and fitness programs, increase awareness of cultural differences on campus, and increase accessibility to information in an effort to remove physical activity participation barriers experienced by CFIS.