Building young people’s motivations for healthy lifestyle

PhD, Associate Professor S.I. Zheleznyakova1
PhD, Associate Professor L.I. Batyuk1
Dr.Sc.Hist., Professor I.M. Kornilova1
A.V. Skatershchikova1
1Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow

Keywords: motivation, physical culture, youth, health protection, health culture, healthy lifestyle, health values.

Background. As reported by the recent questionnaire surveys, health is currently ranked among the key human values and perceived an indispensable resource for the life missions and life quality improvements [1, 2]. From the viewpoint of the social values centered approach, health may be defined as the complex characteristic of mental, physical and social well-being. In empirical terms, the health conception has many aspects including life expectancy, morbidity rates, disease prevention service quality and efficiency etc. Healthy lifestyle may be referred to as the complex conception with the relevant guiding ideas and actual everyday practices deemed to be necessary and sufficient for the individual health protection and improvement purposes. In the above contexts, health culture may be described by a range of factors in-cluding: the information/ cognition factor critical for understanding of the health standards and health self-rates; social health culture factor with the dominant social conceptions of the health norms/ disorders; healthy lifestyle concepts; the best perceived health protection/ improvement methods; stress tolerance models; attitudes to a variety of addictions; healthy lifestyle motivations including the internal and exter-nal ones i.e. traditional for the relevant social group and surroundings (including family and colleagues) [4, 1, 2, 5, 6, 3]. 
Objective of the study was to analyze the typical health behavior and practices in the young people’s communities.
Methods and structure of the study. The study was run on the following assumptions and definitions. Motivation is defined as the focused mindset and/or physical efforts to attain certain goals including those dictated by the individual physical/ health needs. Healthy lifestyle motivations are classified into the in-ternal ones including the individual health agendas and external motivations formed by certain fashions, social traditions and behavioral models. Health culture shaping motivating factors may be classified into the socio-cultural ones specific for the social surrounding and the information/ cognitive factors including the system of healthy lifestyle perceptions. The individual healthy lifestyle perceptions may be rated by a few empirical test rates to analyze the everyday health practices and skills (healthy diets; healthy daily regimen; healthy sleeping habits; everyday physical activity; stress tolerance; medical services claimed; bad habits if any; environmental awareness; self-rated healthy lifestyle motivations etc.); key individual health rates produced by the self-rating tests; healthy lifestyle awareness including the access to healthy lifestyle information and communication (in the context of the communal healthy lifestyle awareness and healthy lifestyle promotion campaigning, with the relevant communication channel quality ratings). Em-pirical study method means the standard questionnaire survey of the target group; and focus interviews with discussions of the relevant key issues. Sampled for the study were the 18-20 year old Plekhanov Russian University of Economics’ students (n=292) grouped by ages and genders.
Results and discussion. The questionnaire survey found that the healthy lifestyle motivations are domi-nated by the general vital needs (like food and sleep); stress tolerance improvement agendas needed to adapt to the social challenges; and the popular perceptions of the healthy lifestyle including the physical activity related ones. The question ‘Please indicate the five key healthy lifestyle elements you would ideally like to implement in your life’ was responded as follows (we give the 5 options checked by at least 33% of the sample in a descending order): healthy nutrition (56% of the sample); healthy sleep (45%); stress tolerance (42%); everyday physical trainings including morning exercises and fitness practices (41%); everyday fresh-air practices like walking, cycling, skating, rolling etc. (32%); and healthy work and rest regimen (31%).
The question ‘What of the listed healthy lifestyle elements are found in your everyday life?’ to test the healthy lifestyle related practices (with 5 options) was responded as follows: immunity to chronic diseases (35%); immunity to bad habits (31%); everyday fresh-air practices (31%); high immunity to acute diseases (less than 3 per year) (30%); and fitness club practices (25%). The conflict between the ideal healthy lifestyle perceptions and practical healthy lifestyle elements may be explained by the age-specific un-tapped health resource when the health issues are still not among the top individual priorities, plus the still poor healthy lifestyle awareness. Thus the question ‘What are the limitations for healthy lifestyle in your opinion?’ (3 options) was responded as follows: reluctance i.e. poor healthy lifestyle motivations (71%); disbelief in the healthy lifestyle values and benefits (50%); shortage of time (46%); and financial constraints (39%).
The healthy lifestyle advocacy and cultivation sources existing in the social environment tested by the question ‘What healthy lifestyle cultivation means are the most efficient in your opinion?’ were ranked as follows: family (55%); Internet (37%); role models personified by celebrities (24%); healthy lifestyle promotion by the mass media (23%); healthy lifestyle information from peer students and colleagues (19%); and  16% of the sample believed that no outside impacts are effective enough, and it is only the internal healthy lifestyle commitment that counts.
Conclusion. The survey data and analyses showed the students’ healthy lifestyle behavior and motiva-tions being determined by the age-specific health resources and accessible everyday health/ physical prac-tices. The ideal healthy lifestyle model was found dominated by healthy sleep, healthy diet and stress tol-erance related motivations. The study found some conflict between the ideal healthy lifestyle perceptions and practical healthy lifestyle elements and behaviors. The healthy lifestyle cultivation tools perceived the most efficient are dominated by family viewed as the core socializing institution, and Internet. Role mod-els personified by celebrities were also found important for the healthy lifestyle motivations of the young people. The study findings show the need for the healthy lifestyle cultivation/ healthy lifestyle efforts of the traditional and new social institutions being joined to successfully build up sound healthy lifestyle motivations within the individual health agendas in the context of the national public health on the whole and the resource-driven policies for the life quality improvements.


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As reported by the recent questionnaire surveys, health is currently ranked among the key human values and perceived an indispensable resource for the life missions and the life quality improvements. Objective of the study was to analyze the typical health behaviors and practices in the young people’s communities. The study classifies the typical mindsets and behavioral patterns of young people in the health protection and improvement domain; makes assessment of the personal health visions and health practices; and out-lines the typical blunders and contradictions in the young people’s health agendas and cultures. The study data were collected by questionnaire surveys and focus interviews on health issues. Sampled for the study were the 18-20 year old students (n=292) grouped by ages and genders. The study data and analyses made it possible to: outline the key attitudes to healthy lifestyle and health values; set criteria for an ideal healthy lifestyle; analyze the typical health practices and agendas; and identify the conflict between the declared commitment for healthy lifestyle and real health practices – that should ideally include at least some of the healthy lifestyle elements. The healthy lifestyle basics are interpreted as follows: healthy diets; healthy daily regimen; healthy sleeping habits; everyday physical activity; and good stress tolerance. The study found a variety of objective and subjective barriers for the health motivations and offered the most efficient healthy lifestyle promotion methods to form and build up health motivations and values in the young people’s communities.