Wellness Amoung First Year Collegiate Female Athletes

Article excerpt

Abstract

As more campuses begin to address the needs of athletes in general, and female athletes in particular, more research assessing current wellness behaviors on the part of female athletes can be used to improve the support available while providing guidance with regard to the kinds of programs and outreach efforts that will make the greatest positive impact on female athletes. The purpose of this study was to compare the wellness behaviors of female athletes and female non-athletes to gain a better appreciation for the factors that affect female athletes and the steps that can be taken to assist athletes in proactively working toward a level of wellness that they can sustain throughout their lives.

Introduction

Female athlete wellness can be affected by many aspects of college life such as, stress, time management, eating and sleeping habits, training, weight control, relationship issues, and family situations. Ideally, the overall experience of being a collegiate athlete should be a holistic one, providing an opportunity for a healthy approach to life. However, as story's such as University of Tennessee swimmer Tiffany Clay reveal, making the transition from high school to college can present female athletes with demands they may not have experienced before. Within a month of starting her first year at the University, Tiffany struggled to bring order to a life she felt was out of control. Suffering from depression and anxiety, Tiffany sought to find ways to deal with feelings of being overwhelmed. Fortunately for Tiffany, the University of Tennessee recognized that athletes need support with these kinds of issues. Through a program called Team Enhance, a comprehensive network of physicians, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists, academic support staff, and counselors, work together to address the needs of athletes on their campus (Gardiner, 2006).

As more campuses begin to address the needs of athletes in general, and female athletes in particular, more research assessing current wellness behaviors on the part of female athletes can be used to improve the support available while providing guidance with regard to the kinds of programs and outreach efforts that will make the greatest positive impact on female athletes. The purpose of this study was to compare the wellness behaviors of female athletes and female non-athletes to gain a better appreciation for the factors that affect female athletes and the steps that can be taken to assist athletes in proactively working toward a level of wellness that they can sustain throughout their lives.

Female College Students

Promoting wellness among college age students has proven to be a worthwhile endeavor. Perceptions of overall wellness have been linked with increased happiness in early adolescents as well as in college students (Granello, P.F., 1999; Mahon, N. E., Yarcheski, A., & Yarcheski, T. J., 2005). Langford (1995) states that during the college years females are working on the task of achieving more mature relationships with individuals of both sexes and of similar age. Langford (1995) also states that young female college students are working on achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults as a normal part of their development. According to the American College Health Association (2006) report on the health status of college students, 35.6% of females report stress as the top health impediment to academic performance. Another concern of collegiate females is weight and thinness, the ACHA report indicates that 62.7% of collegiate females report exercising to lose weight, and 42.4% diet to lose weight, however, a majority of these students (67.6%) are in a healthy weight category. Additionally, 13.9% of female college students reported being in an emotionally abusive relationship in the past school year, 46.8% of females drank one to four alcoholic drinks the last time they partied, and 80. …