Associations between physical activity, screen time, sleep quality and flourishing in university students


Background: The transition to university is difficult and is often associated with decreased psychological health. Higher physical activity and sleep, and lower screen time are associated with better psychological health; however, few studies have examined all three movement behaviours in one model. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between physical activity, screen time, sleep quality and flourishing after controlling for demographic factors. Methods: First year university students (N = 295; 74.1% female; Mage = 20.49, SD = 5.07) from a psychology participant pool completed self-report questionnaires at one time point. Using hierarchical regression, demographic factors (i.e., age, gender, parents' marital status, mother's and father's highest education and body mass index) were added to the model followed by physical activity, screen time, and sleep quality. Results: Demographic factors accounted for 1% of the variance in flourishing whereas physical activity, screen time, and sleep quality accounted for 15% of the variance. After controlling for demographic variables, physical activity (B = .158, p = .006) and sleep quality (B = .324, p < .001) were significantly related to flourishing. Screen time was not related to flourishing (B = -.063, p = .259). Conclusions: Controlling for demographic factors, better sleep quality and higher physical activity are related to more favourable flourishing in university students. Despite claims of the negative effects of screen time, screen time was unrelated to flourishing in this study. Future research is warranted to examine movement behaviours over time to examine the directionality of these results.