The transition period from high school and college can be quite challenging for students. During this time, individuals are still trying to establish their identity; thus, making them extremely vulnerable to unhealthy peer influences. Correspondingly, this stage attracts numerous mental and physical health challenges that may hinder full integration into college life (Downs & Ashton 278). Against this background, Andrew Downs and Jennifer Ashton argue that, encouraging students to participate in vigorous physical activity can aid in alleviating these detrimental problems.
Downs and Ashton (pp. 228-229) begin by acknowledging preceding literature to support their hypothesis that college life increases an individual’s risk of developing mental and physical health problems. College life escalates the risk of developing depressive symptoms, anxiety disorders and other mental disorders (228). Moreover, college students are prone to numerous physical health problems such as obesity, binge drinking, and unsafe sex practices. Furthermore, Downs and Ashton (229) also explore the link between physical activity and the promotion of mental/physical health well being of an individual.
On this note, I do agree with the fact that, physical fitness promotes good feeling in an individual. Personally, I have witnessed obese students in college who become stressed because of their appearance. Although Downs and Ashton do not explore the relationship between obesity and physical exercise, their insightful of the positive benefits of physical exercise is quite adequate.
Furthermore, they underscore that physical activity reduces the risk of developing some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and cancer. However, in spite of the fact that physical activity promotes physical and mental well being of an individual, college students are rarely engaged in this significant act (Downs & Ashton 231). The authors also underscore that most college students rarely take part in any form of physical activity (232). Through my own personal experience and also via observation, I tend to concur with the authors that college students rarely engage in vigorous physical activity.
However, what have always bewildered me are the reasons behind this decline. On this note, Downs and Aston article answers this significant question. To begin with, they underscore that college students rarely engage in sporting activities. As a result, their vigorous physical activity levels are greatly reduced (235).
Apparently, sporting events encourage participation in vigorous physical activity, thus the declining interest among students is quite distressing. Secondly, the authors exposed that participation in vigorous physical activity was influenced by an individual’s perception about the significance of the same to his/her life. Most importantly, the perception of self either promoted or hindered physical activity in such a way that if a student perceived him/herself as a budding athlete, they were likely to take part in sports and vice versa.
Against this backdrop, this article is extremely relevant to physical education educators. This is because, by understanding the inhibiting factors associated with reduced vigorous physical activity among college students, they can come up with effective strategies to modify this behavior. To begin with, physical educators might carry out sensitization campaigns aimed at encouraging sports participation among college students. By doing so, the numerous mental and physical problems among college students might be eliminated entirely.
In a nutshell, the importance of physical exercise cannot be overemphasized. Most importantly, encouraging participation in sporting activities among college students will promote their physical and mental well being.
Downs, Andrew & Ashton, Jennifer. (2011). “Vigorous Physical Activity, Sports Participation, and Athletic Identity: Implications for Mental and Physical Health in College Students”. Journal of Sport Behavior 34. 3 (2011): 228-249.