Physical activity and healthy eating – relationships, cognitive transfer, and gender differences


  • E. Ivanova
  • K. Mitev
  • S. Karabeliova
  • I. Zinovieva


The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationships between two behaviours – healthy eating and physical activity (PA), as well as the hypothesised transfer of cognitions between the two. Research shows that cross-behaviour cognitions play a role in understanding the adoption of health behaviours and may be part of the explanation of how individuals regulate them. A study with 133 participants, most of whom were university students (84% - up to 25 years), was conducted. The applied measures included questionnaires about healthy eating and PA, based on the WHO recommendations; the Transfer Cognition Scale, which describes PA cognitions as supporting healthy nutrition behaviour; and a questionnaire, based on TRACS, about transferring cognitions from nutrition to PA. All measures showed good internal structure. T-tests registered that gender had a significant effect only on high-intensity PA. Moderate-intensity PA had a positive effect on healthy eating. Participants who met the recommendation for high-intensity PA were prone to spend more time seating on weekends. People who practiced high-intensity PA, were also more likely to transfer cognitions from PA to healthy nutrition. On the other hand, healthy eating behaviour correlated positively with transferring cognitions from healthy eating to PA, and negatively with seating time on weekends. The findings confirm that transfer cognitions are an aspect of the relationship between healthy eating and PA, and that high-intensity PA may have compensatory effect on seating time. These are important aspects of young adults’ health which will be further researched and used in future interventions.





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