Graduation Year

2020

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Economics

Major

Economics

Faculty Mentor

Amanda Dawsey

Faculty Mentor Department

Economics

Faculty Reader(s)

Kaetlyn Cordingley

Keywords

Time Allocation, Student Wellness, Exercise

Subject Categories

Behavioral Economics | Health Economics

Abstract

A growing body of economic literature examines irrational human behavior in a variety of contexts, including exercise habits (Duckworth and Milkman 2019). Based on this research, small interventions known as nudges have been introduced, sometimes significantly altering how individuals behave. This study focuses on a specific population’s behavior to nudge: university student’s exercise habits. Despite the benefits of physical exercise, such as a 40-50% reduction in all-cause mortality, only half of the students surveyed by this study met CDC suggested exercise requirement of 5 hours per week—5% responded that they do not exercise at all (Morris et al. 1953). This physical inactivity has not only costs the individual, but also society, estimated at $117 billion per year in America alone (Carlson et al. 2015). This study investigates why university students act against their long-term interest and wellbeing. The central question of this study is: how do students frame the tradeoffs between exercise and academics and what are implications for their time allocation? Understanding how students frame the time consumption can enlighten policy responses to the problem of physical inactivity.

This paper uses data from a survey sent via email to the ~8,400 student membership of the University of Montana Recreation Center which generating ~440 observations analyzed using ordinary least squares and ordered logit. Preliminary results indicate a majority of students do not engage in sufficient number of hours of exercise. Students are least likely to give up studying time in order to exercise, but answered that they would be motivated to exercise if it were bundled with a payment or fine, if they received academic credit, or if they went with a friend. These responses suggest novel behavioral interventions that could induce students to exercise more often that could be replicated in society at large.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

GLI Capstone Project

no

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© Copyright 2020 Teigan Nicole Avery