Healthier movement behavior profiles are associated with higher psychological wellbeing among emerging adults attending post-secondary education
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BACKGROUND: Emerging adulthood is a stressful time fraught with new challenges while attending higher education. Identifying protective factors to help reduce the psychological burden that many will experience during this period is therefore important. This study aimed to identify whether emerging adults attending post-secondary education can be classified into distinct profiles based on their 24-h movement behaviors, evaluate correlates of profile membership, and examine relationships between profile membership and indicators of mental health. METHODS: This cross-sectional study used data from Cycle 1 of the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey. Emerging adults (N = 15,080; 67.6 % female; mean age = 20.78 ± 2.00) from 20 post-secondary institutions in Canada self-reported their movement behaviors - moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), recreational screen time (ST) and sleep - and completed measures of psychological distress and mental wellbeing. Latent profile analysis was employed. RESULTS: Five profiles were identified: low ST with very high (12.6 %), high (24.4 %) and low MVPA (51.2 %) as well as high ST with high (2.3 %) and low MVPA (9.4 %). Profiles had similar sleep patterns and were thus characterized by differences in MVPA and ST. Several socio-demographic variables were associated with profile membership. Profiles characterized by healthier combinations of MVPA, ST and sleep generally reported more favorable scores for indicators of mental health. LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional data limits causal inference, whereas self-reports may be biased. CONCLUSIONS: Campus-based interventions should focus on getting students to engage in a healthy balance of physical activity and recreational screen use as it has the potential to reduce the mental health burden on emerging adults attending post-secondary education.
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