Hao Lei

Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Exercise Science

First Advisor

Pellegrini, Christine


Many college students are physically inactive and have high levels of stress, and this may be worse among increasing number of international students studying in the US. This study investigated the relationship between physical activity and stress among American students (n=92) and Asian international students (n=64). The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare MET minutes/week from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form between those two groups. The independent-samples t test compared the mean of stress from the Perceived Stress Scale between those two groups. Chi-square test was used to compare the percentage of Asian international students and American students who met WHO physical activity guidelines. Multiple regression was used to examine the association between physical activity and stress levels among American students and Asian international students. Asian international students were older (27.5± 5.0 yrs) than American students (24.4± 5.9 yrs) (p<.001). American students had a higher BMI (23.9 ± 4.7) than Asian international students (22.4 ± 3.0) (p=.014). The median activity levels of American students (3273.5 MET-minutes per week) was significantly higher than Asian international students (1511 MET-minutes per week) (Z=-4.668, p <.001). More American students (73.2%) met the WHO physical activity guidelines than that of Asian international students (43.4%) (χ 2=13.756, p=.001). American students had higher stress levels (19.8 ± 5.4) than that of Asian international students (16.6 ± 4.8) (p=.001). There was not a linear association between stress levels and physical activity levels. In general, Asian international students were relatively less physically active compared to American students, but American students were more stressed. Future studies need to identify the causes of physical inactivity in Asian international students and higher stress levels in American students, so tailored interventions can be implemented to help them meet physical activity guidelines and relieve stress. This can promote a life-long physical activity lifestyle for Asian international students and may also help them reduce their risk of chronic disease later in life.