Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Diary of an international student 4

Dear Diary,S
I can’t help but notice how international students especially those from Africa to other continents become physically active individuals as soon as they begin their education in these continents. It is as though they just read or heard through the various forms of media (website, digital signage) available to them in the country, city or university of study that an adult their age (19-64years) requires at least 150minutes/week of moderate intensity activities. Ha! I almost forgot I didn’t carry you along with me during the physical activity lectures hence I need to explain moderate intensity activity to you. You know how I can’t keep things in my head so permit me to use the explanation given in the 2011 report by the 4 chief medical officers of the countries that make up UK even as we wait for my prayers for a refrigerator-like head to be answered.

They explained moderate intensity physical activities to be those activities that will cause adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster and still being able to carry on a conversation. Examples include brisk walking and jogging. These experts also have what they call vigorous intensity physical activity. This, they explained as activities that will cause adults to get warmer and breathe much harder and their hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation with examples such as running and sports such as football and swimming. These explanations Diary are based on the average person’s ability so if there are people who cannot converse during a moderate physical activity, I guess it is about time, they become more committed to physical activity and for those who can still converse during a vigorous physical activity, thumbs up but please take it easy a little.

Now let’s go back to the story of the international students. My dear Diary, I am still wondering what are the factors influencing these international students decision to stay physically activity. Could the availability and location of facilities such as sports centres, gyms, open spaces and parks available in their universities and cities be factors influencing their decision? Or is it that these facilities may be comparatively cheaper than those back in their home countries, cities and universities (the truth Dairy, I wonder how many of these facilities are available within accessible distance from these students’ residence or offices back home)? Perhaps, this decision to stay active can be attributed to influence from other people.

As I continue to wonder what these influencers are, it is interesting to however note Diary, these students are only active in the gyms and sports centres. While some of them in their bid to utilize their one year by pass will jump on a bus even when their destination is 5mins away, those without one do not own bicycles (these bicycles can always be sold when these students are returning home). While I can try to understand why those international students who have a year’s bus pass do not own a bicycle (which in my opinion is not a tangible excuse), I wonder what the excuse is for those who do not have a year’s bus pass especially with cycling lanes demarcated to encourage more cycling and less car or bus or train transport in the cities in which their studying. I guess I have to email the little things that we do article to them. Will I be right to say these students only associate being physically active to going to the gyms, sports centres or keep fit clubs? Or could it be that, they are on the quest to achieve a certain body image for a lady/gentleman at their place of study or back home so their visits to these facilities to lift weights?  May be their highest influence could be due to the benefits associated with staying active (Reduces risk of a range of diseases, e.g. coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes etc).

Whatever the factors (cost, convenience, body image, health, information and many more) may be, we won’t be able to tell as you and I will not be there when they are making the decision to stay active and can only use the face of the pink sheets available to say, our dear international students are at least trying to stay active for a quality life now and tomorrow. Nonetheless, as I am not a cat, I intend to find out which factor(s) is (are) the highest influencer(s) in the physical activity decision making process of students both home and international so that their universities and perhaps their sponsors can develop the appropriate health improvement materials to assist these students in making healthier lifestyle choices.


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