Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Hung-Ling (Stella) Liu


campus recreation, college freshmen, depression, physical activity, wellness center


There is limited research done on the relationship between the program utilization at a campus wellness facility and the symptoms of depression in college freshmen. College students have been found to have a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms than the general population, possibly due to the stressors college life can add. Studies have been done on the effects of physical activity as an intervention for depression as well as on the benefits of campus wellness facilities; however, there have been few studies that look at both campus recreation and depression. The author’s purpose for this study was to see if there was a correlation between the use of programs at the campus wellness center and self-reported symptoms of depression in first-semester college freshmen. A survey including questions on depressive symptoms and wellness center usage was handed out to students in freshmen seminar classes. There was a response rate of 184 participants, with 172 being first-semester freshmen. Questions were taken from the PHQ-8, a tool used to determine severity of depressive symptoms, and from a National Institute of Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) study on the benefit of campus recreation. Frequency, Chi Square, and Spearman’s rho were used to analyze the results. The most commonly used programs at the wellness center were cardiovascular training and weight training. The frequency of visits to the wellness center as well as open recreation, intramural sports, and group fitness program use all correlated negatively with the PHQ-8 categorical score. This shows that first-semester freshmen who participate in those three programs and attend the wellness center more frequently have less depressive symptoms. The students also reported stressors similar to what is seen in other studies, with the most common stressor being the amount of coursework. There are future implications that can be taken from this study for campus recreation and wellness facilities to utilize with two major themes being affordability of programs and providing opportunities for students to learn how to manage their stressors and mental health.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

College freshmen -- Health and hygiene.
College freshmen -- Mental health.
College freshmen -- Recreation.
Depression, Mental.
Universities and colleges -- Health promotion services.
Stress (Psychology)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright