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A declining level of physical activity and preponderance of unhealthy lifestyles among adolescents and youths are presently a public health concern, in view of the long term implications of present levels of physical inactivity and prevalent unhealthy lifestyles. This research study was carried out to assess the influence of knowledge of lifestyle on fitness promotion among Edo State Secondary School Students. A field survey was carried out involving 150 respondents randomly drawn from five schools in the Benin Metropolis. Responses from the participants were analysed using the Chi Square test. Results showed that students posses a low level of knowledge of the influence of lifestyle on fitness promotion. Hence it was also found that students lead lifestyles that do not promote their fitness and even overall wellbeing, neither do students meet recommended levels ofphysical activities. In the view of the foregoing, it was basically recommended that all stakeholders including the government, school administrations, health organisations and parents should in their different roles, help in promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyles as well as increased physical activity by secondary school students and youths in general.



Background of the Study

The wellbeing of any individual can be said to be mainly an offshoot or a function of one’s lifestyle and practices over a long period of time spanning childhood, teenage or adolescence and adulthood. This same view is corroborated by Adesina (2012), who acknowledged a growing conviction that adults’ health and wellbeing have their origin in behaviour established during childhood and there is a general agreement that youths should be encouraged to adopt active lifestyles which can be sustained into adult life. Adopting a lifestyle that promotes physical fitness have always been emphasized, given that physical fitness is one of the key signs of optimal wellness and health. Olubayo-Fatiregun, Ayodel and Olorunisola (2014) stressed that the status of health that one enjoys at a given time is determined by multifaceted factors in which physical activity plays a vital role and the interaction of all these factors determines the level of fitness and wellness an individual might experience at any given time.

Lifestyle simply is one’s typical way of living that is usually expressed in coping with one’s physical, psychological, social, and economic environments on a day-to-day basis. Shehu, Onasanya, Onigbinde, Ogunsakin and Baba (2013) defined lifestyle “as the sum total of individuals’ ways of life. In a context relevant to our study, Shehuet. al (2013) further explained lifestyle as the “behavior of choice” which affects ones fitness and health status. They further opined that individual lifestyle constitutes what he/she eats, drinks, smoker, physical activity or inactivity, protected and unprotected sexual behaviour and drug habit. The Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary defined lifestyle as “the set of habits and customs that is influenced by the life-long process of socialization, including social use of substances such as alcohol and tobacco, dietary habits, and exercise, all of which have important implications for health” (Lifestyle, 2012).

There exists a wide prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle-related behaviours that often lead to lifestyle diseases that result because of choices people make in their lives. Poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, overuse of alcohol, poor diet, lack of physical activity and inadequate relief of chronic stress are key contributors in the development and progression of preventable chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer (Golubic, 2013). Similarly, Egger (2008) opined that four main causes – excess weight, poor diet, physical inactivity, and smoking – account for most of the mortality and morbidity of the major diseases of modern society, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression, and kidney disease.

From the foregoing, one can easily see the far-reaching implications of lifestyle for people’s overall health and wellness. Ironically, promoting healthy lifestyles is a major challenge for many primary care practices, medical practitioners and establishments as well as international health organisations . Although most patients understand the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, many seem unable to change their unhealthy behaviours to reduce weight and improve chronic conditions (Clarke, 2013).

Unhealthy lifestyles are the major cause of illness and death in our country creating an enormous burden to our society. In an attempt to provide a snapshot of lifestyle in Nigeria, the World Health Organisation reported that too many Nigerians eat an unhealthy diet, are overweight and sedentary, smoke, manage stress ineffectively, have uncontrolled blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, are physically inactive, and above all, do not know the signs of cardiovascular diseases (Obasuyi&Agwubike, 2012).

All aspects of health and lifestyle behaviours are interrelated. Thus, a healthy lifestyle is often advocated by medical practitioners and establishments as well as international health organisations wherein people are encouraged to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, reduce fat, sugar and salt intake and exercise (World Health Organisation, 2014). However, physical fitness stands as a prominent measure of optimum mental and physical health achieved through a healthy lifestyle.

Brandon et al (2002) defined physical fitness as a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations. Also physical fitness is defined by as a state of well-being with low risk of premature health problems and possessions of reserved energy to participate in varieties of physical activities (Howley and Franks, 1997; Crespo, Ainsworth, Keteyian, Health & Smith, 1999).

The Global Burden of Disease Study carried out in 2010 showed that more young and middle-aged adults are developing ‘non-communicable’ diseases such as cancer, fuelled by a rise in smoking, alcohol use and obesity (Cancer Research UK, 2012).  The above report brings the lifestyle and physical inactivity of teenagers and young adults into focus which also is the basic focus of this research study.

Onifade (2001) was convinced that many Nigerians today are living sedentary lives lacking in physical and vigorous activities. Abubakari and Bhopal (2008) reported that between 25-57% of all Nigerians are physically inactive. Additionally, two separate studies among young adults (15-49 years) in Nigeria showed 38% and 41% prevalence of physically inactivity (Alawode, 2012). Olubayo-Fatiregun, Ayodele, and Olorunisola (2014) held the view that Nigerian youths are becoming more inactive due to the introduction of high technology bringing about an increased use of video games, films and television, the decline of opportunities for games and physical activities in schools, and concerns for safety outside home, leading to youths finding themselves living sedentary lifestyles. They further stressed a steadily declining state of physical fitness, aerobic fitness, and participation in regular activity during the transition from secondary school age to high school adolescents as demonstrated mainly in early maturing females and overweight youths in Nigeria. Thus, Shehu et al (2013) acknowledges the increasing prevalence of obesity in Nigeria particularly in the Universities, with sedentary behaviour patterns and excessive fat in the diet identified as the factors that appeared to be most responsible.

An unhealthy lifestyle of poor feeding, physical inactivity and poor physical fitness and its associated health problems have substantial consequences to health care system in both developed and developing countries. For Nigeria, the impact of physical inactivity and poor physical fitness is an impending disaster for the health and medical society as well as the general economy in terms of increased medical bills and lost wages on the part of Nigerians when they fall ill with lifestyle-related diseases. Nigeria has a high youth population. Results from the  Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 shows that 53.2% of Nigerians are below 5 years of age to 24 (National Population Commission and ICF Macro, 2009). Same survey results show that children aged 10-19 years accounts for up to 20.7% of the Nigerian population. High levels of physical inactivity have also been reported amongst teenagers (10-19) and youths (15-24) in Nigeria. Studying the level of knowledge or awareness of the influence of lifestyle on fitness promotion among secondary school students is the basic focus of this research study.

Statement of the Problem

Adolescence and youth are stages in one’s life where healthy eating and exercise do have immediate and lifelong implications. This is because developing sedentary habits and poor diet early in life where children or youths eat too much and poorly, lacks exercise and thus, are physically inactive and unfit can lead to obesity as well as other immediate and eventual health complications. Despite the above, Peyman (2014) reports that a shockingly high number of young people are overweight due to unhealthy lifestyles. Even among the highly educated Nigerians especially among the youths, obesity as an undesirable outcome of changing lifestyle and behaviours is fast becoming a health concern. According to Adesina (2012), there exists growing problem of adult obesity, which is reflected by an increase in youths overweight and obesity as studies indicate that percentage prevalence of obesity in youth ranges from 9%-40%.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2010a) reports that the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other chronic diseases is rising rapidly in Nigeria. Olayinka, Soyibo and Atinmo (2004) identifies the ongoing lifestyle changes of urbanization involving reduced physical activity and inappropriate diets as responsible for the rising trend of CVDs and other chronic diseases in Nigeria. Globally, WHO (2010b) identified physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (6% of deaths globally) while overweight and obesity are responsible for 5% of global mortality. Health enhancing physical activity is generally considered as any activity that benefits health and functional capacity, and it includes lifestyle, fitness, recreational, occupational and sports activities rather than just exercise alone (WHO, 2010b; Smith & Bird, 2004; Miilunpalo, 2001). The WHO (2010b) in its Global Recommendation on Physical Activity for Health recommends at least 60 minutes  of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity daily for children and young people aged 5–17 years old, while for adults aged 18–64 years at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity. These recommendations are applicable for all children and youth irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, or income level. Despite the recommended levels of physical activity and the immediate and life-long health and wide-ranging implications of adolescence and teenage lifestyle and its physical activity component, a high level of physical inactivity has been reported among teenagers and young adults globally. In Nigeria, Oduwole et al (2012) reported low levels of physical activity for more than half of school-going adolescents with attendant rise in the prevalence of overweight (13.8%) and obesity (9.4%) in this age group. Odunaiya, Ayodele and Oguntibeju (2010) reported 38% prevalence of physically inactivity among young Nigerian adults aged 15 to 49 years. For the same age group of young Nigerian adults (15-49 years), Adegoke and Oyeyemi(2011) reported 41% prevalence of physically inactivity among this age group. As a result of such a low level of physical activity teenagers and youths are not being able to assert themselves physically and often resent any activity which demands a lot on physical activity.

This worrisome trend of high prevalence of physical inactivity and growing trend of overweight and obesity among adolescents and young adults in Nigeria basically questions the knowledge or level of awareness of the influence of lifestyle on fitness promotion among secondary school students given that several diseases in adults are associated with conditions or behaviors that began during youth, including the lack of physical activity (Hallal, Victora, Azevedo& Wells, 2006).

A lifestyle of physical inactivity and poor feeding habits among adolescents and young adults is fast becoming a public health concern in terms of the immediate and prospective implications of this problem given the high youth population in Nigeria. Current estimates of the Population Reference Bureau (2013) indicate that Nigeria has a population of 53.5 million young people aged 10–24years, the highest in the African region, with 44% (41% female; 47% male) of this population enrolled in secondary school. Thus, it becomes imperative to investigate the knowledge or level of awareness of the influence of lifestyle on fitness promotion among secondary school students. Such an investigation should provide answers to several relevant questions emanating from this worrisome trend. These questions form the research questions.

Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide this study:

  1. What is the level of the knowledge of the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion by secondary school students?
  2. Do secondary school students have a lifestyle that promotes their physical fitness?
  3. Do secondary school students meet recommended levels of physical fitness promotion activities?
  4. Do secondary school students get adequate education and enlightenment on the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion and overall wellbeing?

 Objectives of the Study

This study primarily aims to investigate the knowledge of the influence of lifestyle on fitness promotion among secondary school students. The study is also set out to achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. Establish the level of the knowledge of the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion by secondary school students.
  2. Establish if secondary school students have a lifestyle that promotes their physical fitness.
  3. Establish if secondary school students meet recommended levels of physical fitness promotion activities.
  4. Establish if secondary school students get adequate education and enlightenment on the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion and overall wellbeing.

Hypotheses of the Study

In order to guide this study, the following research hypotheses were formulated and presented in the null form:

H01: There is a low level of knowledge of the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion by secondary school students.

H02: The lifestyle of secondary school students does not promote their physical fitness.

H03: Secondary school students do not meet recommended levels of physical fitness promotion activities.

H04: Secondary school students do not get adequate education and enlightenment on the impact of lifestyle on fitness promotion and overall health and wellbeing.

Significance of the Study

The relevance of this study primarily emanates from its focus on secondary school students (both teenagers and young adults). This is because the secondary school age or phase is crucial as secondary school-aged children begin to make decisions and choices, thereby forming lifestyles from themselves which effects their health and wellbeing presently and when they become adults. This study attempts to capture the lifestyle of secondary school students.

Furthermore, the relevance of this study emanates from the slim body of research on this subject matter. This research study is an addition to the already existing body of knowledge in this area and would be beneficial to researchers in similar analysis or investigations.

Finally, recommendations made on the basis of the results of this study will prove useful for coming up with lifestyle intervention and adjustment programmes for secondary schools as a long-term measure of promoting health and wellness in Nigeria, given that unhealthy lifestyles can be modified with a higher degree of success at the secondary school level as teenagers and youths at this level are more susceptible to modification than in later years.

Scope/Delimitations of the Study

The scope of this research study covers all secondary school students in Edo State. For our empirical field study, students will be randomly chosen from selected secondary schools in Edo State. The study was delimited to the senior secondary school students of schools selected for the study.

Limitations of the Study

This research study is mainly limited by the slim background of scholarly works on this research area which poses a huge constraint to this study. Inaccessibility of the few works that exist is another major constraint on this study in terms of the extra time and cost of obtaining relevant materials for referential and review purposes.

The research is also constrained by the time and cost of obtaining primary data from our field study for analysis. Also, the reliability of our results will be constrained by the dependence on primary data obtained from the field study.

Definition of Terms

In this particular study, the following terms are defined thus:

Lifestyle: This is the way an individual actively or passively chooses to live his or her life that becomes a routine and has an all pervasive influence on the individual’s way of doing things, health, interaction with people and the environment.

Fitness: This is a state of a person being able to perform physical activity successfully with ample energy and a margin of safety, without undue strain and fatigue.

Secondary School Students: These are students in classes of the junior and secondary school levels covering from Junior Secondary School one (JSS 1) to Senior Secondary School Three (SSS 3) in the Nigerian educational system.