Reading into Physical Activity: Health Literacy and Exercise

By Kai Bellows-Riecken, Joan Wharf Higgins, Deborah Begoray, Cecelia Benoit and Patti-Jean Naylor.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: October 9, 2015 $US5.00

This exploratory study examines the relationship between health literacy (HL) and physical activity (PA) using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) in order to better understand their connection and to test for mediating effects of TPB. Participants (N = 65) were assessed using the REALM, newly developed questions related to PA literacy and accelerometers. The results of this study show that even after controlling for covariates HL and PA are significantly linked (r = 0.37, p < 0.01), yet the TPB constructs were not found to mediate this relationship. However, Perceived Behavioral Control (r = 0.29, p < 0.05) and Intention to Exercise (r = 0.29, p < 0.05) were associated with HL. Difficulty Reading was cited as a barrier to PA for those with lower HL (r = 0.37, p < 0.01). Finally, HL was found to be a significant mediator of the Education-PA relationship (β = 0.022, t = 4.53, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.17). These findings are relevant to creating equitable and comprehensive promotion of PA and to understanding the mechanisms involved in PA disparities, highlighting concerns about education, perceived control, and reading ability in relation among low health literate individuals. These findings also support the need for health promoters and researchers to work with communities known to be at risk for low HL in the community to create opportunities for community member input and relevance in program development and research.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Physical Activity, Exercise, Mediation, Empowerment, Theory of Planned Behavior

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2015, pp.31-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: October 9, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 530.569KB)).

Dr. Kai Bellows-Riecken

Sessional Instructor and Contract Research Position, School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Dr. Joan Wharf Higgins

Professor, School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Deborah Begoray

Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cecelia Benoit

Faculty, Sociology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Patti-Jean Naylor

Assoicate Professor, School of Exercise Science Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada