Mary Bolgan

Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2017

Degree Type



Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

Director of Thesis

Rhea Merck

First Reader

Valerie Bridges

Second Reader

Valerie Bridges


When asked to describe, as simplistically as possible, what one believes to be the most basic needs for human survival, it is likely that a few concepts will come up repeatedly: food, shelter, and procreation. In modern times, barriers to these needs tend to be financial resource. However, this has not always been the case. In primitive times, a third necessity would be needed to survive, that being a certain degree of physical fitness. To obtain food and build shelter, our ancestors had to have a great deal of physical competency to be able to hunt, gather, build, and keep themselves safe from prey. Essentially, any and all physical activity was geared toward making it to the next day. Flash forward to 2017. With the technologies now available to mankind, the need to be physically active to fulfill these two essential needs have become virtually nonexistent in much of the world (especially in developed nations). However, in the modern world, it is no secret that physical activity is needed for leading a healthy life. Thus, as humans have transitioned from our initial imperatively physically active lifestyles to the sedentary behaviors we see today, the rise of what we know as “exercise,” or planned and structured physical activity, has taken form.

The world of exercise and fitness is a vast confusing terrain, and the motivations that people hold for being physically active have changed drastically from the obviously instinctual survival needs they were once composed of. Through this research I have sought to examine the progression of exercise throughout history, and contrast it with the way we approach exercise now. I then created an anonymous survey taken by students at the University of South Carolina to see what type of exercise patterns are present among current college students, as well as their attitudes towards exercise. In determining what views are held by young adults in a college Bolgan 5 setting, I researched further to determine what may be the potential causes of shifts and thought patterns. My desire is to uncover any potentially negative thought processes or motivations for exercise, and examine the influences that have impacted my generation to have the varied views of exercise that we do.

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© 2017, Mary Bolgan

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