n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Exploring wellness practices and barriers : a qualitative study of university student-athletes : physical activity, health and wellness - : physical activity, health and wellness

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


University student-athletes, constitutes one of the primary clients of the university, and are regarded as the heart and soul of every educational institution. They have been described as a special population whose university experience is different from those of non-athletes. Their wellness is influenced by various stressors acting together and placing physical and psychological demands on them. These stressors include regimented schedules and time constraints; negative stereotyping by the media, faculty and students; time constraints; physical stress and fatigue; commitment to attend practice sessions and games; and performing a dual role as both athletes and students. Taking into account the afore-mentioned, the present study was undertaken to explore the physical, intellectual, social and emotional wellness of university student-athletes, identify barriers to wellness and make appropriate recommendations based on the results. In addition to a comprehensive literature review on wellness, a qualitative approach using four semi-structured, open-ended focus group interviews with a purposive sample of participants was adopted for the study. Interviews were recorded with the permission of the participants. Responses were transcribed by the principal researcher verbatim from the recordings. An inductive approach was used to analyse the content of the data. Trustworthiness was ensured through member checks, peer review and inter-rater agreement. An iterative consensus validation was conducted by all members of the research team to ensure that the interpretation of the data and identified practices and barriers made the most analytic sense. The results indicate that student-athletes experience problems adjusting to the university setting and lack the knowledge to address their wellness needs. Several significant wellness practices which included, , peer interaction, reading and networking were identified. Barriers to achieving wellness included poor time management, poor choice of company and the lack of transport. Arising from the findings several recommendations were made.

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