STUDENTS’ PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROMOTION FACTORS: ANALYSIS OF THE EXPERIENCE
Authors: Jūratė Armonienė
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Growing concerns about the health of young people and physical activity can be observed recently. Indeed, children do not exercise enough, they tend to play computer games and watch television instead of playing outside.
None of the state authority assumes responsibility for the establishment of proper conditions for students’ physical activity; too little attention is paid to the quality of physical education classes.
Not all Lithuanian schools pay enough attention to the issues of health education. In some schools, students’ health is fostered only by the individual teachers initiative (Proškuvienė, 2004). What are the causes of such a situation?
A health education process in schools would be conducted more efficiently if it was supported by more willingness and active participation of all the staff and students’ parents. Physical activity is one of the factors influencing people’s health. Movement is the body’s natural biological need, and ordinary human activity is hardly possible without it. Physical activity can be understood in quite a broad sense. It includes various exercises, participation in competitions, household work, leisure activity that requires physical effort, as well as physical work.
In order to implement the students’ healthy lifestyle education and addiction prevention programs a teacher survey on healthy living issues and on the use of tobacco, alcohol and other psychoactive substances were conducted in the Vilnius Jons Basanavicius Gymnasium. The public health official (PHO) carried out the students’ state of health analysis in accordance with the provided medical evidence.
The aim of the survey was to determine the teachers’ attitude to the students’ health education and to evaluate the students’ and teachers’ initiatives which promote physical activity and prevention of addictions.
The prevailing method used in the survey was a questionnaire for the teachers which consisted of 10 open-ended questions. 62 questionnaires were handed out, and soon 42 of them were filled in. Thus, 67.74 percent of the teachers shared their knowledge of a healthy lifestyle.
The results of the questionnaire survey conducted at Vilnius Jonas Basanavicius Gymnasium show that only 50 percent of the teachers believe that they play an important role in protecting and enhancing the students’ health. The majority of the teachers thinks that their knowledge about health is only satisfactory.
According to the teachers’ subjective assessment, they mainly face the lack of knowledge about the issues of psychotropic substance abuse, sexual education, first aid matters, mental health and coping with stress. About 35.5 percent of the gymnasium teachers do not use the Universal Health Education Program or other health programs such as the preparation for the family life program, the smoking prevention program, the program of changes, and the program of self-confidence. There are many teachers who believe that the most important thing is to teach their particular subject, regardless of the anatomical and psychological characteristics of the students’ health and their real abilities; thus, indiscriminately increasing mental stress and leaving no time for physical activity and recreation.
2015/2016 year students’ health studies have shown that the most common health problems are optic (313 cases), bone and muscle (234 cases), circulatory and respiratory diseases (187 and 105 cases), an increase of disorders of the endocrine system has been noticed (65 cases), and nervous system disorders (26 cases) have also been quite common if compared to the statistics for the years 2014/2015.
In order to adapt the students’ healthy lifestyle education and addiction prevention programs at our gymnasium we conducted a survey on tobacco, alcohol and other psychoactive substance use prevalence.
The survey that was conducted with the help of the IQES system analysed the answers of 348 gymnasium students from the 1st-3rd form (51 percent of these respondents were boys and 49 percent were girls). All in all, 37 percent of these students were from the 1st form, 39 percent from the 2nd form, and 24 percent from the 3rd form.
The survey found out that the most common bad habits observed in our gymnasium are smoking, as 317 respondents (91 percent) indicated; and alcohol consumption – that was admitted by 22 respondents (6 percent). 10 percent of the students named desire to relax as the main reason for smoking; 10 percent admitted being encouraged by their friends; 8 percent pointed out that this was a habit; while 3 percent started smoking out of curiosity.
In order to reduce the spread of harmful habits, various prevention events, promotions, meetings and competitions are organized at our gymnasium. Besides, since this school year, the public health official (PHO) organizes the classes based on the issues of psychoactive substance prevention.
A lot of events take place in February, since the campaign "February is a healthy month – 2016" is traditionally carried out at that time of the year.
Programs of health promotion, physical activity and addiction prevention applied in schools will help shape students' psychological - social competence, their life and health skills; encourage healthy living and safe choices.