The Exercise Class Experience: An Opportunity to Promote Student Wellbeing During the HSC
Keywords:Physical Activity, Student Wellbeing, HSC, Stress
AbstractResearch reveals that approximately 40% of Year 12 HSC students and 25% of Year 11 HSC students experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and or stress exceeding the normal or expected values. Numerous studies show that female students report higher levels of psychological distress than their male counterparts. Female secondary school students also report poor lifestyle behaviours such as low levels of physical activity participation. This is despite research demonstrating physical activity interventions as an effective means of promoting wellbeing. However, it has not been well documented whether physical activity interventions are considered beneficial by HSC students at this stressful time of their lives. Therefore, the current study explores the experiences among a group of female HSC students (n=6) (mean age = 17 years) regarding their involvement in a once per week, 8 week exercise class program. Each participant reported at least one perceived benefit relating to their involvement in the 8-week exercise class program. A perceived increased level of access to physical activity was identified by the participant group. After taking part in the program, reductions in individual subjective stress, increased social interaction, improved self esteem and improved mood states were all identified by the participants as perceived benefits of exercise class participation. It is recommended that secondary schools in Australia focus on providing supportive environments for health by offering HSC students the chance to take part in conveniently located, free of charge exercise classes.