Health promoting role of physical education in university learning process


Dr.Hab., Professor S.G. Serikov
Dr.Hab., Professor G.N. Serikov
Ural State University of Physical Culture, Chelyabinsk

Keywords: student health promotion, physical education, health, education, learning process.

Introduction. In the university learning process a student often faces a variety of both positive and negative effects on health. Specifying this point basing on the dialectical positions it should be noted that educational process inevitably imposes loads on the body, which under certain circumstances can damage young person’s health. However, a student must perform these loads to improve his level of knowledge [3]. In fact, the proper choice of exercise load has a favorable impact on health [2]. At the same time, fundamental change of emphasis towards physical improvement in university education can negatively influence the quality of assimilation of the learning material on other courses. In extreme cases, when excessive academic loads cause mental overstrain and excessive volumes of motor activity cause physical fatigue, health and level of knowledge students are at risk [4]. Thus, it becomes actual to determine the role of physical education and sport activities in knowledge acquisition and promotion of students' health.

Objective of the research was to theoretically substantiate the interrelation of health and knowledge of students in the university learning process.

Results and discussion. Considering the learning function in student’s activity, we should note, that first it involves performance of mental work. Undoubtedly, this contributes to education of the individual. However, certain side effects are also likely to arise. On the one side, such a kind of mental activity is a prerequisite for successful general development of the individual, but on the other side, it is also a source of specific loads on students’ psyche and, under certain conditions, on the general state of health. This is due to the accumulated fatigue acting as a basis for the formation of overfatigue, which often evolves into chronic forms. It is worth mentioning that it has become very popular in the last years to implement various educational innovations in the higher education system. They include the use of new, non-tested approaches to education in general or to its separate aspects, which further increases the risk of negative changes in students’ health condition [4].

At the same time, there are certainly positive aspects related to health promotion when the students perform the learning function. This entails the assimilation of effective aspects of social experience in terms of maintaining and strengthening of health in the university learning process. These elements are included in the content of education, especially in such discipline as physical education. Knowledge acquisition in these aspects is certainly a benefit in the interrelation of learning activity and health of a young person [6].

It should be noted that in addition to the learning function almost any student is engaged in self-education. This function is performed voluntarily in accordance with emerging educational needs. From the perspective of knowledge acquisition, it is fair to say that self-education undoubtedly plays a positive role. However, comparing the activity of students based on the performance of the learning and self-education functions, we should note, that the latter is more energy consuming compared to the former. If in the course of learning, we observe a rather appropriate combination of reproductive and productive activities, then in the course of self-education mental activity is mostly of productive, problem-searching nature. Productive methods are more complex. Consequently, a student spends relatively more energy engaged in intellectual activity when performing the self-education function than during learning. Therefore, there is a high possibility for the overfatigue and all ensuing consequences for health [4].

One more aspect typical for self-education in view of increased energy expenditure during mental activities of students is its subsidiary nature [5]. In other words, when a student performs this function, loads experienced when learning are supplemented by the self-education loads. Thus, the total volume of energy inputs is growing. Therefore, it is another factor increasing the risk of various health issues. In this regard, it is highly important to create pedagogical conditions for enhancing the share of motor activity in students’ self-education. Here we mean facilitating the formation of students' interests and needs to exercise on their own and the need for physical improvement. Along with the actions aimed at promoting physical education values among students, the relevant pedagogical conditions include formation of motives and goals towards systematic training, helping in the choice of proper physical exercises and their amounts, explaining body state self-control methods, assisting in the assimilation of self-training rules, making sure physical loads correspond to the abilities of a particular student etc.

Speaking of motor activity as one of the components of students’ activities, first we should note that it has considerable possibilities to, sort of, compensate for excessive energy inputs in mental activities of students. Therefore, motor activity can be characterized as a powerful tool for student health promotion. The relevance of physical education with regard to health promotion is stipulated by the importance of recreational forms of physical education depending on interests and needs of particular individual. Hence, it is of great importance to organize various university sport sections and groups, health days and enhance extracurricular health and fitness activities that make it possible to involve all students in the available kinds of physical activity and solve recreational tasks of physical education [1].

Noting the significant role of physical activity in students’ health promotion, we should take into account certain restrictions. The point is that increased volumes of motor activity lead to physical overstrain, which can be destructive to students' health. This is a result of excessive physical loads, too high intensity and duration of physical activities etc. Thus, it is important to control the degree of physical fatigue of students through visual monitoring, which helps determine compatibility of physical loads with the state of health and fitness level of the young person [7].

Speaking on the role of students' motor activity for their knowledge, we should mention that physical activity has a favorable effect on the assimilation of social experience and acquiring personal experience in the framework of the “Physical Education” discipline. However, physical exercises to some extent can also contribute to the knowledge acquired in other disciplines from the curriculum. In this context, we should mention a general positive effect of physical exercises on intellectual activity. The influence of regular exercises on the central nervous system conditions the growth of mental capacity.

Thus, highlighting the significance of physical education in terms of creating favorable conditions for the students’ knowledge acquisition process, it should be noted that excessive enhancement of the role of motor activity in learning processes can negatively affect the overall quality of education. For instance, it is not uncommon when a young person actively engaged in sports starts paying less attention to learning, devoting most of his time to physical improvement. There is a clear predominance of physical activity over mental one, and as a result – negative trends in his education level. Otherwise speaking, under certain conditions motor activity can play a negative role for university students in their assimilation of standard education [4].

Conclusions. Various activities performed by students in the university learning process effectively influence both knowledge acquisition and health promotion. In the context of assimilation of education, mental work of students is of primary importance. At the same time, increased intellectual loads can act as a factor negatively influencing health due to mental overstrain. In turn, motor activity of students helps them overcome these negative trends by changing types of activities, at the same time promoting mental processes. However, exercising without regard to age and individual characteristics of students can cause physical overfatigue, resulting in both health and education issues. In general, significant increase of volumes of physical activity at the expense of learning activity can affect the quality of education.

University education practice shows a significant predominance of mental activity over motor one, which largely conditions the existing trends towards deterioration of health among youth. Therefore, it is reasonable to take deliberate and feasible actions meant to enhance the role of motor activity in the learning process to eliminate the negative trends in health of students while maintaining the level of education in compliance with the requirements of the federal state educational standard. In other words, to ensure the health promotion trend in the university learning process mental and motor activities of students should be equally valued.


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The article highlights the interrelations between health and education levels of students in a university learning process from the dialectical perspective. In this view, significant predominance of either mental or physical loads in student’s activity can result in negative trends in health status or development of education. Therefore, it is necessary to define such a scope within which motor activity would play a health promotion role in the student’s life, i.e. contribute to development of his education without compromising health.

A student performs two main functions within the university educational process: learning and self-education. On the one hand, when performing these functions one may be subject to increased loads, which can consequently lead to deterioration of student's health. On the other hand, both learning and self-education include physical education and sports activities, which promote students’ health. Besides, it is appropriate to take actions so the students paid more attention to motor activity during self-education.

It is also essential to undertake administrative and managerial measures to enhance specially arranged physical education and sports activities of students, considering their positive impact not only on their health, but also on the academic progress. However, this should come from the general physiological and individual peculiarities of physical load regulation to avoid a reverse effect.