Physical inactivity and sedentariness are modifiable risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and a variety of chronic diseases; it is therefore pertinent to improve on one’s physical activity and encourage regular assessment of Physical Fitness Level (PFL) especially among young adults. The level of PF and the factors that influence them among Nigerian Undergraduates appear unknown. This study assessed the PFL and the influence of selected demographic/academic factors on the PFL of undergraduates in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology (FHST), University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC). Two hundred and thirty-eight undergraduates (122 females, and 116 males) recruited from four Departments in the FHST participated in this study. The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR Q) was used to screen the participants for safety of exercise participation, while their demographic details were obtained using data form. The Cooper’s 12-Minute Walk Test (12-MWT) was used to assess their Maximal Oxygen Consumption (VO2 max) - an index of PF. Data obtained were analysed using descriptive statistics (of mean, standard deviation, percentage, frequency) and inferential statistics of (t- test, ANOVA and Pearson’s Correlation). Level of significance was set at α = 0.05. The participants’ mean age, BMI and PFL were 23.79 ± 3.11 years, 22.78 ± 2.93 Kgm-2 and 17.75 ± 5.38 ml/Kg/m respectively. There was a significant difference (t = -6.596, p = <0.0001) between the PF of males and females. There was a significant difference in the PFL of the students when compared across the various departments (F = 2.321, P = <0.0001) and also when compared across the various grades of study (F = 4.753, P = 0.00). The relationship between PF and BMI was found to be linear but very weak and non-significant (r = 0.004, p = 0.951). The PFL of undergraduates in FHST is considered poor for age. Gender and grades are influencing factors of PFL for this population, whereas BMI has no significant relationship with their PFL. Regular Assessment of PFL and improved physical activities/ exercise geared towards improving their PFL should be integrated into the programme of students in FHST. Replication of similar studies in other faculties is encouraged.
Key words: Physical Fitness, Physical Activity, Demographic variables, Academic Variables, Nigerian Undergraduates.
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