Journal of Physical Activity Research
ISSN (Print): 2576-1919 ISSN (Online): 2574-4437 Website: Editor-in-chief: Peter Hart
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Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2020, 5(1), 3-8
DOI: 10.12691/jpar-5-1-2
Open AccessArticle

Relationship of Athletic Identity to Selected Health Behaviors Among College Students: Implications Beyond Formal Sport Participation

Katie Helms1 and Duston Morris2,

1School of Counseling, Human Performance, and Rehabilitation,University of Arkansas at Little Rock, DKSN 515, 2810 South University Ave. Little Rock

2Department of Health Sciences, University of Central Arkansas, 201 Donaghey Avenue, Conway Arkansas

Pub. Date: March 10, 2020

Cite this paper:
Katie Helms and Duston Morris. Relationship of Athletic Identity to Selected Health Behaviors Among College Students: Implications Beyond Formal Sport Participation. Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2020; 5(1):3-8. doi: 10.12691/jpar-5-1-2


Organized team sport is a popular activity for American youth. While sport participation is associated with many positive health outcomes, the opportunity to continue participating in organized, structured sports declines with age. Sport participation is also associated with athletic identity, an aspect of personal identity that is the extent to which individuals identify with the athlete role. While athletic identity is often studied in the context of negative consequences that can occur when the athlete role is disrupted or discontinued, there are also positive associations with continued identification as an athlete, particularly regarding health behaviors such as exercise. Lifestyle sports are a way that individuals can continue participating in sport-related activities throughout life, potentially continuing the beneficial elements of athletic identity. The current study seeks to explore the relationship between athletic identity and health behaviors. More specifically, it examines this relationship in lifestyle sport contexts independent of formal organized sports such as high school or college athletics. Results showed that athletic identity is positively related to exercise frequency, recreational sport participation, and health behaviors. Moreover, these associations were found regardless of past experience in a formal athlete role. Results have implications in identifying the potential for athletic identity to positively influence health, particularly in activity settings that are more inclusive and lifestyle-oriented than formal, organized team sports.

athletic identity sports exercise recreation health

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