Students' health and recreation tourism promotion experience

Students' health and recreation tourism promotion experience


PhD, Associate Professor T.G. Neretina
Dr.Hab., Professor T.F. Orekhova
PhD, Associate Professor E.A. Ovsyannikova
S.V. Klevesenkova
Nosov Magnitogorsk State Technical University, Magnitogorsk


The article gives an account of the students’ health and recreation tourism advancement experience with an emphasis on rafting projects on the Belaya River in the Republic of Bashkortostan viewed as the most accessible form of the students’ health and recreation activity in the summer vacation period. This form of tourism is demonstrated to be one of the most promising avenues of a tourist club activity within the university sports system and a valuable element of the mass physical culture and sports movement in the university communities – as it caters for a variety of students’ aspirations and needs (for recognition, self-assurance, self-discovery and self-fulfilment; for communication and harmonic socialization in good contact with surrounding people of different age groups etc.); motivates them for the personality development process to foster a variety of highly valuable qualities, including the ability to live in natural environments; maintain mental comfort; adjust to and survive in harsh conditions; adapt to new conditions and meet challengers; cooperate with other people developing good teamwork skills in attaining the team goals and solving a variety of tasks on the way; and encourage them to opt for healthy lifestyles and active creative activity.

Keywords: students’ rafting sport, health and recreation tourism, tourist club


Students' health and recreation tourism in the summer vacation period is considered one of the most promising activities by management of the “Stykhiya” Tourist Club that have operated for 12 years at the premises of Magnitogorsk State University and later on at the premises of G.I. Nosov Magnitogorsk State Technical University following the University reform in 2014. It should be noted that the government has many times formally confirmed the high priority being given to this form of the young people’s sport, health and recreation activity. However, the actual living practices of the university students presently dominated by unhealthy long hours of sitting at computer; high dependence on internet and mobile communication; high academic workloads that, as provided by the formally approved higher education curricula, come to 54 hours per week – that is 14 hours longer than the weekly limit for an adult worker set forth by the Code of Labour Laws of the Russian Federation. The situation is further aggravated by the students’ immaturity as the body physical development process is known to be finalized by 24 years of age; and all these negative factors come at variance with the formally declared high priority given to university motor activity promotion initiatives viewed as one of the key prerequisites for the young person’s health protection and improvement policies. Moreover, as demonstrated by students’ health and recreation tourism advancement experience of many Russian universities, the academic tourism is both highly efficient in the physical development aspects and heavily contributes to the important personal qualities development process, the qualities being later on highly valuable in the person’s post-graduation socialization process and professional career [1, 2].

Objective of the study was to design tourist routes for the rafting sport projects on the Belaya River in the Republic of Bashkortostan for efficient health improvement and recreation of university students and academic staff members in the summer vacation period.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was performed in the period of 2004 through 2015. Subject to the study for this period were more than 1500 people in total. At the first stage (2004-8) of the study, the following elements were developed and tested: design and content of the rafting projects; objectives and hypothesis of the study; health and recreation activities most acceptable for the raftsmen – designed and tested using a variety of monitoring, theoretical analyzing, logical inductive/ deductive tools and methods to mine and generalize the empirical data and put together application models. At the second stage (2009-13) of the study, its objectives were further clarified, the project hypothesis was corrected and the most positively assessed forms of the raftsmen’s health and recreation activities were further improved [5]. At this stage of the project, we used a variety of empirical study methods including discussions, interviews and questionnaires. At the third stage (2014-15) of the study, the project experience was summarized and classified and practical recommendations for the university health and recreation rafting sport initiatives in the Southern Urals were developed [3]. The study results were analyzed by a variety of data recording, ranging and mean arithmetic value computing and conclusion-formulating tools under the standard mathematical data processing procedures.

Study results and discussion. Theoretical grounds for a few notions including “health and recreation tourism”, “tourist health and recreation rafting activity forms” and “health and recreation technologies” were developed as a theoretical result of the study. Based on the commonly accepted meaning of “tourism”, we have defined the health and recreation tourism as the form of a group leisure-time management in unusual environments geared to offer increased physical loads to the tourists to activate the internal natural and cultural resources of every individual. The tourist health and recreation rafting activity forms are defined herein as the variety of controlled self-management operations in natural environments; and the health and recreation technologies are defined and interpreted as the tourists’ self-management activation forms geared to attain the guaranteed results in the efforts to maintain, build up and improve the body stamina. In this context, we define health as human stamina as the resource granted to him/ her by nature at the moment of birth to be employed over the lifetime either in a highly reasonable, cultural and active (i.e. geared to maintain, improve and build up health) or unreasonable manner (when the individual health resource is unwisely exhausted and wasted). Every health and recreation technology may be described in terms of the following qualities: (1) simplicity that means that the technology is easily mastered by people of any age group; (2) accessibility meaning that the technology requires no special training/ finance/ equipment to be mastered; (3) safety assured by the high professionalism of the tourist instructors and voluntary participation requirements; and  (4) efficiency that means that the process participants attain fast, positive and really tangible effects [7].

The efforts to foster healthy lifestyle (HLS) in the student enthusiasts were designed to cover the following 7 HLS aspects: (1) personal hygiene; (2) healthy nutrition; (3) optimal motor activity; (4) healthy labour and recreation patterns; (5) body tempering; (6) elimination of bad habits; and (7) mental comfort [7]. Let us dwell in more detail on the HLS components of special importance for the academic rafting tourism. First of all, it is a strict prohibition of alcohol to make it possible for the rafters to appreciate advantages of the sober lifestyle on the one hand and learn the basics of the sober recreation on the other hand. Practical experience of the long-term group rafting sport has demonstrated that more than 50% of the raftsmen have accepted the sober lifestyles both in the rafting time and their off-rafting lives.

The raftsmen are recommended to stick to specific diets as dictated by the field conditions for foods keeping and cooking. The standard mixes of foodstuffs recommended for the raftsmen are designed to be simple enough to ensure optimal diets and prevent overeating; the everyday menus are dominated by cereals and vegetables that stand long-term storage in natural conditions, with very limited amounts of high-calorific farinaceous foods and sweets. Furthermore, the menus are free of perishable foodstuffs like non-canned dairy and meet products which are partially replaced by modest amounts of canned meet/ fish/ dairy products. The rafting diet is specific in the sense that meals are taken four times per day in compliance with the relevant healthy nutrition standards viewed as one of the prime conditions for the tourists’ health protection and improvement.

A high priority in the health improvement domain of the tourist rafting sport is given to the natural health tempering procedures as the sport provides ample opportunities for contacts with every natural factor for this purpose, including  (1) air, i.e. the air therapy that implies breathing clear oxygen- and ozone-rich air of forests and highlands; air baths and a variety of special respiration practices; (2) water, i.e. hydrotherapy that implies swimming in natural water flows, high-contrast water baths in cold spring water etc.; 3) sun, i.e. heliotherapy; 4) contrasting day and night air temperatures and other self-tempering field procedures like the camp Russian sauna highly popular as the genuine Russian health conditioning procedure, with the sauna floor covered with aromatic grasses and the steaming people lashing their bodies with green oak/ birch/ juniper bunches and then swimming in river water that gives a highly tempering and healthy effect. In addition, barefoot walking in grass, sand, pebbles and other soils is recommended as a highly efficient health improvement procedure.

Mental comfort achieved and maintained by the raftsmen is viewed as one of the most important process outcomes achievable by a variety of the relevant health and recreation technologies applicable in the field conditions and designed, on the one hand, to cultivate teamwork and communication experience in the students working in contact with the teammates of different age groups and social statuses, and, on the other hand, to mobilize the creative potential of every person [6]. Let us dwell in more detail on this point.

First of all, a top priority in the rafting tourism is given to the raftsmen’s teamwork that requires every their action being highly harmonized and duly coordinated, including the camping arrangements; field life management, river barrier crossing, mountain climbing and caving procedures; food cooking arrangements including wood collection, fire making, tableware washing procedures etc. As a result, the young university raftsmen gain valuable communication and teamwork experience and practical skills in: establishing friendly team environments; keeping efficient communication in physically and mentally stressful conditions; solving conflicts in unusual, uncomfortable and sometimes extreme situations (e.g. heavy rainfall, cold weather, stormy winds etc.). Furthermore, the rafting tourist environments give the means to develop mentally comfortable gaming, health-improvement and entertainment skills in the provisionally free time, including, for instance such games as “Secret Friend”, “Films”, “Associations” etc.; making gifts of natural materials for the “Secret Friend” game; braiding bracelets, toy animals, bead-flowers, including the charm bracelets “in memory of the raft” etc.; mastering body-art (body painting with colours) techniques; batik paintings on cloth, including the tourist club logo prints on T-shirts etc.; guitar-accompanied singing in camps and on catamarans; and creative festivals around campfire, with the final gala concert in the last night with every friend being encouraged to contribute [4, 5]. It is these evenings and concerts that give a great boost to the creative gifts and innovations of the participants, with the new songs, remakes, own verses, individual and collective dances, mini-performances, artistic verse reading etc. being performed.


More and more people join every year the health and recreation rafting tourism projects including university students, graduates, academic staff members and their families. Many people come from many other regions of the country, including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ufa, Chelyabinsk etc., with the movement demonstrating the growing popularity of natural sports as an inexhaustible source of life energy on the whole and the rafting projects offered by the “Stykhiya” Tourist Club popularity in particular. This form of health and recreation has proved to be of high interest for every age group (1 to 70 years of age in fact) as it is readily accessible for virtually everybody and caters for a wide variety of individual interests, hobbies and needs including fishing, sunbathing, swimming, foresting, herbs-, mushrooms- and berries-gathering, sport games, socializing etc.

It should be emphasized that the health and recreation rafting tourism domain of the “Stykhiya” Tourist Club activity is designed for the rafting projects to be highly efficient in promoting a variety of the best human life values in the project participants including good health, sobriety, family values and the spiritual and physical self-improvement-centred values.


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