Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Mary Peterson, PhD

Second Advisor

Jeri Turgesen, PsyD

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Hamilton, PsyD


Research highlights the multiple determinants of weight including poverty, nutrition, and physical activity (Miguel-Berges, 2018). Children and adolescents living in rural areas are at greater risk than their urban counterparts. Regarding physical activity, there are often fewer recreational resources and the high poverty rate precludes transportation or additional fees associated with many extracurricular activities. In response to this problem, research has shown the educational environment is a point of access to reinforce health education and behavior. One evidenced-based program showing significant outcome in improving health behavior is the Healthy Lifestyle Choices (HLC) which is designed to be delivered in an educational setting. The HLC is a comprehensive, school based, behavioral health curriculum developmentally appropriate for elementary through middle school students. Relevant to this study, the HLC program includes psychoeducation in nutritional awareness and physical activity. This study explored the impact of the 12-week HLC curriculum on the frequency of physical activity for 106 students participating in the program. Results showed that two activities typically occurring within the school environment significantly increased while activities typically occurring afterschool hours showed no significant differences. The lack of change in after-school activity supports concerns regarding limited access to recreation resources in rural areas. The importance of maintaining physical education/activity programs during the educational day is one implication that may be drawn from these results.