Axiological aspects of students' healthy lifestyle: regional case study

Фотографии: 

Associate Professor, PhD O.E. Andryushchenko1
Dr.Sc.Phil., Associate Professor V.N. Gulyaikhin2
1Volgograd State University, Volgograd
2Volgograd Academy of the MIA of Russia, Volgograd

Keywords: healthy lifestyle, physical culture, values, educational technology, youth, students

Introduction

Values are commonly acknowledged as a key element of any initiative to encourage healthy lifestyles in young people. The values translation process, however, is never free of certain problems in practice as “...the modern physical education system with its often chaotic diversity of forms has failed to lure most of the children and adolescents into regular and diverse physical exercises” [4]. It is the due axiological domain of the social consciousness geared to address the challenges and requirements of the new millennium that will form a basis for the modern physical education and young people’s healthy lifestyle cultivation process [7].

Special attention in this context will be given to a few issues with concern to the axiological aspects of the healthy lifestyle cultivation process. What values are the young people guided by taking care of themselves on the whole and their health in particular? What are their priorities when making the choice of dominant axiolants? Are the standard healthy lifestyle cultivating educational technologies applied in the national educational system efficient enough?

Objective of the study was to identify the top priority values the Russian young people are guided by in their healthy lifestyle cultivation agenda; and assess the efficiency of the relevant regional public initiatives and events designed to cultivate healthy lifestyles in the local young population.

Methodology and organisation of the study

The concept matrix of the subject for the study was designed based on the relevant provisions of the theory of activity and social engineering by G.P. Shchedrovitskiy and V.Ya. Dubrovskiy; the integrative approach to human psychology by B.G. Ananiev; and the Rokeach Value Survey. We used common study methods and the relevant qualitative and quantitative date collection and processing toolkit to explore the preferential values of certain age groups of young people, including content analysis, questionnaire survey, data triangulation and analytical induction methods.

Study results and discussion

The axiological self-care system of a person including the relevant individual health-caring behavior is known to be subject to gradual changes under the influence of variable spiritual, social and natural factors. Every historical epoch has offered its own healthy lifestyle paradigm in fact. Our time is specific, among other things, in its own chronotop which manifests itself as the “…personal physical culture formation by every agent in particular and the society on the whole, with the physical culture revealing the essential temporal and spatial social relations” [3]; that means that a healthy lifestyle is formed within continuum of social time and space. However, it does not mean that psychological and social traits of different young people’s groups may be neglected in the process [6].

We used the B.G. Ananiev classification for the Russian young people’s grouping by age; he basically offers two young-age groups, one of which (15-17 years) borders on childhood and the other (18–25 years) – on maturity, the groups being different in the psycho-physical and intellectual development regularities [1]. In our opinion, both of the young age phases are also largely specific in the life conditions of the young people as the first age group is nearing and preparing for the self-dependent life phase, and the other enters a specific psycho-social context of the self-dependent life and socializing phase with the relevant new lifestyle being created.

The Volgograd Region government has been giving a top priority to the local young people’s involvement in the relevant healthy lifestyle encouragement public initiatives and social projects viewed as a key factor of youth’s health improvement, as follows: the Municipal Forum of Social Technologies “Let's lead a Healthy Lifestyle!”; the Interdepartmental Preventive Action “Life Rainbow Inside Us”; and the Contest of Social Promotion Banner Messages “Nation’s Health in the XXI Century”. Organizers of these and other events have made an emphasis on the youth’s initiatives to support the 2018 World Football Cup in Russia that should become one of the most important events of the decade for the Volgograd Region [2]. Another healthy lifestyle promotion initiative of the local government was the “Run after me!” Project that offered cooking master classes to learn young people cook healthy food and give them basic knowledge and skills to make healthy and tasty food. These and other events were generally designed to shape up a set of healthy lifestyle focused values in the local young people’s communities.

It was in March 2015 that we conducted the young people’s preferred values questionnaire survey in the context of the healthy lifestyle cultivation agenda; subject to the survey were the senior age group students of Volgograd State University and Volgograd Oil and Gas College; and the junior age group senior pupils of local schools. Subject to the questionnaire survey in total were 402 young people, including 198 pupils (49.25% of the sample) of the junior age group and 204 students (50.75%) of the senior age group. In the data processing stage, the number of respondents of each group was taken as 100%. Gender structure of the groups was as follows: 65.65% men and 34.35% women in the junior age group; and 48.52% men and 51.47% women in the senior age group.

To increase the motivation level and help form a system of the healthy lifestyle cultivation axiolants in the Volgograd State University students, we designed and conducted a set of educational, sociocultural and health improvement initiatives. The methodological and practical basis for the healthy lifestyle promotion in the young people was formed via a few training courses including the “Psychological and Educational Fundamentals of Healthy Lifestyle” Course and the “Healthy Lifestyle Technologies” Course. Necessary provisions were made to ensure these training courses being duly harmonized with the regular Physical Culture curriculum of the University. The theoretical knowledge obtained by the students at the healthy lifestyle cultivation sessions, workshops and colloquia were supported by practical physical practices at the Sport and Health Centre of the University. Most of the university students were involved in the Volgograd State University Sport Contests of Departments competing in 12 sport disciplines; Sport Contests of Volgograd Universities competing in 21 sport disciplines; and the Municipal Sport Games of Hostel Students competing in 6 sport disciplines. Furthermore, the subject young people were actively involved in the Municipal “Volgograd Young People’s Healthy Lifestyle Cultivation” Program that was designed to counter the negative trends in the local youth’s health – as 93.8% of the young population of Volgograd city are reported as diagnosed with chronic diseases and health disorders [5].

In the preferred values analysis of both of the age groups of students, we found that physical health is rated a number one value on the list of guiding values reported by 15-17 year-olds and number second by the 18-25 year-olds. However, the questionnaire survey data analysis to explore specific aspects of the healthy lifestyle agendas of the young people showed some variations in the health attitudes and healthy lifestyle principles and requirements (including physical activity, healthy nutrition, good sleep, health examinations, elimination of harmful habits etc.) being accepted by the young people. It was found, among other things, that the junior age group rates health among its terminal values (important as such) as compared to the senior age group that rates health among its instrumental values (important as tools). Moreover, the survey found some gender differences in the responses as the young women were found to give generally higher priority to the health issues than the young men.

The junior group students were offered a free-answer question to assess their own knowledge in the healthy lifestyle system and its components. Most of the respondents rated regular physical culture practices and sports (mentioned in 100.00% of the responses) as component number one of a healthy lifestyle. Rated second was the right/ rational nutrition (mentioned in 72.22% of the responses). Rated third in opinions of the young people polled was the lack of harmful habits (mentioned in 64.14% of the responses). It may be pertinent to note the fact that the junior age group respondents rated high “leisure and active recreation” (mentioned by 42.42% of the respondents) among the key components of a healthy lifestyle, albeit the valid valueological theory makes no special provision for this element. It should be noted that the young respondents failed to mention good sleep, daily regime, preventive health examinations, body tempering and hygiene among the key elements of a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, the senior school students’ healthy lifestyle conceptions are found being limited to regular physical culture practices and sports, elimination of harmful habits and rational nutrition.

As far as the harmful habits are concerned, the survey found that 20.70% of the senior pupils smoke at least 1-2 times and at least 3 cigarettes per week. A significant proportion of the underage respondents (6.56%) confessed trying narcotics for a few times. In response to the alcohol drinking experience, 36.86% of the respondents confessed trying vodka and/or cognac; 54.04% of the pupils reported having tried wine; 78.28% stated that they drink beer; and about the same number (74.24%) confessed drinking low-alcohol cocktails.

In the health self-rating survey, 36.76% of the senior age group students rated their own health as “good” and 38.72% as “rather good than not”. However, only 22.54% of the young people reported being “fully satisfied” with their own health; 37.25% said they are “rather satisfied than not”; one third of the students polled failed to rate their health satisfaction; and 11.27% of the respondents were found “totally dissatisfied” with their own health. Furthermore, 18.62% of them confessed being sick for quite a long time; 45.58% reported being sick occasionally; and only 3.43% of the respondents openly stated being diagnosed with chronic diseases.

In response to the question if they adhere to a healthy lifestyle, 22.54% of the senior age group students gave positive answers; and 37.74% confessed they do not. Quite a significant share of the young people polled (40.68%) failed to give a clear response. Answering the question of what prevents them from a healthy lifestyle, 27.45% mentioned the shortage of time; 22.05% said they feel no need in it; 20.09% complained having too little willpower; 11.27% referred to bad habits; 9.80% confessed having financial problems; and 7.84% said they have little knowledge of that. Only 4.41% of the young people polled confessed having nothing to prevent them from adherence to the healthy lifestyle basics.

Giving some time to physical culture practices in the off-class hours reported 48.03% of the respondents; and 29.41% said they do exercises 2-3 times per week. The others confessed not exercising. Rated on top of the motivations for exercising was the desire to shape up and lose weight (reported by 35.29%); improve physical endurance (28.92%); and reduce fatigue and improve working capacity (16.17%). Shortage of free time was rated high on the list of the reasons preventing from exercising by two thirds of the young people polled. In responses to the question about harmful habits, 55.88% stated that they do not smoke; and 14.21% answered they never drink alcohol. Most of the respondents (95.09%) stated they never tried narcotics (the rest refused to respond); and 92.15% stated they never tried other mentally harmful substances.

Conclusions

The present social, cultural and educational situation with the healthy lifestyle cultivating values and priorities in the Volgograd young population may be described as relatively challenging and contradictory. On the one hand, quite a few public mass initiatives and events are being conducted in the region with the young people’s healthy lifestyle promotion being given the due attention to in the process; and the teachers take persistent and systemic efforts to teach the students taking care of themselves and their own health. On the other hand, however, we should confess that the practical results of these activities leave much to be desired, as less than a quarter of the young population was found to adhere to a degree to healthy lifestyle rules and principles. This findings show that still much need to be done to step up the efficiency of the public initiatives and events to promote healthy lifestyles in the young population, with special efforts to improve the educational technologies giving the due priority to the key axiological components of healthy lifestyles.

The study was supported by the Grant RGNF #14-06-00889 “Systemic Mechanisms for Healthy Lifestyle Cultivation among Young People”.

References

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Abstract
The problem of formation of the healthy lifestyle value system of Russian youth is one of the most pressing for Russian scientists. Many of its aspects have not been adequately covered yet. The principles of the activity theory by G.P. Shchedrovitskiy, of the integrated approach to the problem of man by B.G. Ananiev, and the concept of value orientations by M. Rokeach based on direct ranking of values served the methodological basis of the research of this problem. In the study, there was defined the axiological healthy lifestyle value system of students, which underlie the process of formation of the life self-care strategy. Analysis of the socio-cultural and pedagogical situations in the context of the issues of formation of the axiological component of a healthy lifestyle of young people has proved it to be rather complicated and controversial. Public events to promote a healthy lifestyle among youth are held almost in every region of Russia. When working with students teachers consistently explain why it is so important for them to take care of their own health. But these actions are not so effective, as required by the current living standards. There is an objective need to improve the efficiency of public health-protection measures, and to enhance pedagogical technologies related to formation of the axiological components of a healthy lifestyle.