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admin | to meditate in silence | 20.08.2014
The current climate in Australian health is one of increasing concern about the sedentary habits and weight problems of the general population. This year's National Psychology Week (NPW) survey investigated two aspects of health behaviour: eating habits and physical exercise. A total of 1,289 people completed the survey (751 females, 129 males, and 409 who did not specify their gender). The extent to which participants reported having succeeded at changing their eating habits is presented in Figure 1.
With regard to changing physical activity, again only a very small proportion of participants reported not having made the change at all (2%), and 20 per cent of participants reported having made the change but it lasted only a few weeks or months.
The need for greater success in achieving lifestyle change was clearly evidenced by other survey results. Figures for overweight individuals are consistent with those recently released by the Australian Government (Biggs, 2006) where it was reported that 32 per cent of adults met criteria for being overweight in the period 2004 to 2005.
Participants were asked to state whether they currently have a problem with their health, weight, or level of fitness. The online survey also included the Health Assertiveness Scale (Braun, 2004), a standardised scale of coping ability.
A series of one-way between groups ANOVAS explored the outcome for different BMI groups on measures of coping, negative emotions (such as anxiety, anger and low mood), self-esteem, expected outcomes from making changes in health behaviour and perceptions of risk associated with not changing health behaviour. These results demonstrate the greater levels of negative mood, lower self-esteem, and poorer health behaviours reported by individuals with obesity than other individuals. Figures 4 and 5 provide the results on the types of strategies participants reported using to change eating habits and physical activity. Despite a large proportion of those responders attempting to change their behaviour being unsuccessful in the long term, only a small percentage had sought professional help when trying to make their behaviour change.
Similarly, few people who reported attempting to change physical activity sought professional help to do this.
Participants also provided a range of open-ended responses identifying the approaches used by professionals that they found helpful. The low use of psychologists to assist with behaviour change may indicate that psychologists are not perceived as professionals able to assist in behaviour change, that they are not readily thought of as a source of this expertise, or that they are less accessible for this purpose than others (such as gym instructors and weight loss organisations). The survey results highlight the difficulties individuals experience in making and maintaining behaviour change. The survey findings suggest that psychologists need to continue to campaign for increased recognition of the role of psychology in the health domain.
On an individual level, psychologists with specialised training in health behaviour change should continue to promote their own expertise, and encourage more wide-spread knowledge of health psychology as a growth area. Many students have found ways to accommodate all of their responsibilities and interests, but they’ll be the first to admit—it’s difficult. The survey, presented by CollegeXpress, a comprehensive college planning website, and O2 MAX Fitness, a youth fitness company, was developed to better understand how high school and college students incorporate healthy habits into their busy lives, specifically: What do students do to stay healthy? Nearly 7,000 young people responded, 90% of them current high school students and college students from across the country.
Students who do not play sports are often more involved in the arts, marching band, and schoolwork.
49% of all college respondents said their campus food is a good mix of healthy and unhealthy options. Many students said they eat cheap, unhealthy foods to save money, even though healthier options may be available. Students work hard to fit everything in: “Today’s students are incredibly motivated, balancing jam-packed school schedules with many and varied extracurricular activities,” says Jessica Tomer, Editor-in-Chief of CollegeXpress. Many students have found ways to accommodate all of their responsibilities and interests, including regular exercise, but they’ll be the first to admit—it’s difficult. To learn more, please contact Jessica Tomer, Editor-in-Chief of CollegeXpress, at jtomer(at)carnegiecomm(dot)com or Karen Jashinsky, Founder of O2 MAX Fitness, at karen(at)o2maxfitness(dot)com.
About CollegeXpress: Students from high school to grad school, their families, and guidance counselors use CollegeXpress to plan their education because it’s free, fun, and, most importantly, helpful.
About O2 MAX Fitness: O2 MAX Fitness, founded by personal trainer and youth fitness expert Karen Jashinsky, helps busy students with big ambitions integrate personalized fitness into their busy lifestyles.


Reach out to the author: contact and available social following information is listed in the top-right of all news releases. At first it seems odd; why would you need physical strength when most of the time it’s your mental faculties that need to be working? Students Should Be Able to Chew Gum at School Whether or not to allow chewing gum in school is an issue that simply won’t go away.
Embedded within this are serious concerns about epidemic rates of diabetes and obesity (Zimmet & James, 2006). An online survey was developed to gain information on the process individuals undertake when making changes to eating habits and physical activity, their level of success in making and maintaining changes and the strategies they adopt. Almost all respondents (97%) indicated that they had at some time attempted to change their eating habits. A larger group of participants (30%) reported that they made the change but do not always stick to it.
Eight hundred and twenty four participants provided information that enabled a Body Mass Index (BMI) to be calculated. However, the number of individuals in the current study who were classified as obese is higher than the 16 per cent of the population indicated in the Australian Government report. Those whose BMI placed them in the obese group generally acknowledged their weight difficulties (89%), whereas only just over half (53%) of the overweight group reported having a weight problem, and 17 per cent of those whose BMI placed them in the ‘normal' weight range reported that they had a weight problem. While everyone is likely to benefit from professional assistance to change health behaviour, the findings suggest that those individuals who are obese are likely to be most in need of professional assistance such as that offered by psychologists who are trained experts in both behaviour change and mental health.
For both eating habits and physical activity, ‘willpower' was described as the strategy most often used, with ‘joining a gym or sporting group' also high on the list for both health behaviour changes. Over half of the participants (55%) did not seek any professional help to change their eating habits. As seen in Figure 7, the professional help most likely sought was from a personal trainer or gym instructor (17%), with fewer people reporting having sought help from a weight loss organisation (2%) or a medical practitioner (3%). Although a small proportion of participants reported that they received information about useful strategies and techniques to change health behaviours, the majority of respondents identified that they received nutrition or physical activity-specific information. This under-utilisation of psychologists for assisting in behaviour change occurs despite research evidence to suggest that individuals who undergo lifestyle-behaviour change programs achieve more sustained behaviour change outcomes. The findings also demonstrate the under-utilisation of psychologists to assist in this process. Psychologists have an important role in multidisciplinary teams working closely with other professionals such as dietitians and exercise physiologists. Psychologists can communicate directly with GPs, practice managers and other health professionals to inform them of the role a psychologist can play in assisting their patients to improve their health outcomes.
It has everything they need for the college journey: a college search, a scholarship search, a graduate program search, 800+ unique college lists, articles and blogs, and much more. Through a unique, proprietary method, O2 MAX Fitness is able to customize lifestyle fitness and nutrition plans that match the goals, schedules, and personalities of each student. Any physically demanding activities that might come up will also be handled more effectively. If you’re tired from school, you won’t have the energy to go out with your friends, parties etc. By taking care of your body, it will help you confront the many challenges and tasks being demanded of you. In the general population these concerns have resulted in an increased awareness of the need to monitor health behaviour. Fewer participants reported having attempted to change their physical activity (73%), although this still represents a large proportion of the sample. For 22 per cent of participants trying to change their eating habits, the change lasted no longer than a few weeks or months before they lapsed back into old habits, and 39 per cent reported that, although they generally feel they have made the change, they do not always stick to it. However, 14 per cent of participants who changed their physical activity up to a period of six months ago reported having maintained the change and 33 per cent of participants reported having changed something about their physical activity over six months ago and have continued to maintain the change. A BMI is a mathematical formula using height and weight measurements that provides a general indication of whether weight falls within a healthy range. This difference could be due to the specific characteristics of the participants in the present sample, who responded to recruitment for an online survey on eating and physical activity behaviours.


For the normal weight group this may have been a recognition that they had difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Such findings indicate that many individuals, especially in the obese group, do not perceive that they are overweight, have a fitness problem, or have a general health problem.
While these results cannot be interpreted as improved coping leading to success, as this is likely to be a circular relationship, they do nevertheless emphasise a need to further explore the importance of the development of specific coping skills for successful behaviour change. When considering responses related to attempts to change eating habits, the groups differed significantly on measures of self-esteem, negative emotions, perception of health risk in not changing behaviour and expected outcomes. Again few people sought help to change physical activity from specialists such as psychologists (1%), exercise physiologists (1%) and dietitians (1%). Such programs include those with a cognitive-behavioural focus (such as psycho-education, goal-setting, strategies for overcoming barriers, relapse prevention strategies), and those involving motivational interviewing techniques (Arkowitz & Westra, 2004).
The important contribution that psychologists can make in lifestyle change appears to be overlooked or not well understood by the community.
At an organisational level we need to continue to promote the role of health psychology to Government, medical practitioners and allied health professionals, and in multi-disciplinary health research.
Integrating motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of depression and anxiety. The role of illness perceptions, depression, anxiety, and health assertiveness, and the impact of CBT intervention on attendance and adherence to cardiac rehabilitation programs.
This corresponds with widespread reports that students feel more pressure to succeed and are more stressed than ever before. Required gym classes at school and physically active jobs and hobbies help them meet activity goals as well, freeing up more time for classwork and other activities.
From high school to prom to college and beyond, O2’s mission is to help students achieve their life’s goals with confidence and ease by providing them with fitness programs and products that are affordable and adaptable. Research shows that most people at some point in time have indicated an intention to change something about their eating habits or activity levels. Nevertheless, 26 per cent of participants had maintained the change for longer than six months and 12 per cent of participants, who reported having changed their eating habits in the last six months, were maintaining the change. In looking at responses to changing physical activity the groups were significantly different on measures of self-esteem and on the perception of health risk in not changing behaviour. Those who did seek professional help were most likely to get help from a weight loss organisation (12%), a personal trainer or gym instructor (12%), or a medical practitioner (10%).
That is, they tended to report receiving information about what it is they should be doing, but did not mention receiving any information on how to put strategies for change into practice. There is a need to promote recognition of the role of psychologists in the physical health domain.
Although it’s primarily a physical activity, its mental benefits can be attested to by people. Given this increased community focus on health behaviour, it is important for health professionals to have an understanding of how individuals work to change their health behaviour and the challenges they face. Surprisingly, fewer people sought help from professionals who are more highly trained experts in health education or in changing health behaviour such as a dietitian (7%), or a psychologist (3%).
In addition, respondents' comments suggest a lack of useful implementation strategies provided by many of those professionals who were utilised.
However, a considerable number of participants had a BMI identifying them either as overweight (31%) or obese (23%). Post hoc tests (using the Tukey HSD test) identified that on all measures the obese group differed significantly from the other groups in the direction shown by the means. Psychological strategies aimed at increasing motivation to change, in addressing barriers to change and in enhancing maintenance of change, are important treatment options provided by psychologists.
Given the small number of participants in the underweight group this group was not included in statistical analyses reported.



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