Creating a College Women's Wellness Program: Innovation for Health Promotion

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Malone, Joe
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Middle Tennessee State University
The purpose of the study was to understand the meaning making related to and the behavioral effects of a college women's wellness program at a mid-size southeastern coeducational university. The motivation for this study emanated from a desire to understand how college women constructed meaning and reacted to female-centered, holistic, physical activity, nutrition and general health curricular models and lifestyle settings.
The researcher employed a qualitative design that included data collected through focus group interviews (n=10) from 10 classes with a total of 182 students and in-depth interviews (n=32). Responses were coded and analyzed using Saldana's (2009) codes to theory model for qualitative inquiry and from the focus groups four overarching themes emerged. They were: (a) the presence of a female paradigm, (b) a sense of value and in some cases accomplishment of a healthy lifestyle change (c) having experienced cohesion through positive community (d) perception of the benefit of positive motivation. The focus groups were conducted at the end of each semester. In order to gain longitudinal perspective in-depth interviews were conducted with class alumni from 26 months post-class to 2 months post-class. The overarching themes from the focus groups were confirmed over the passage of time. In addition, a distinct overarching theme emerged: transformational empowerment. Young women seemed to gain better on-going control over their behaviors physically, emotionally and mentally and were able to build healthier holistic lifestyles. What emerged from the focus groups and the in-depth interviews was a thick and rich account of the meanings constructed through their experiential learning in a holistic health promoting environment.
From the results of the study 4 conclusions were drawn: (a) a large proportion of these young women expressed a preference for female population dominant and female-centered physical education/physical activity environments which is supported by some previous research on females ascending in age from middle school, (b) many seemed to make healthy lifestyle changes within such environments,(c) one of the key beneficial elements in these environments was enhanced cohesion through the promotion of interpersonal positivity and relatedness, (d) many of these college women achieved transformational empowerment longitudinally after their experiences in Women's Personal Conditioning.
College Women, Curricular Innovation, Female-centered PE, Health Promotion, Holistic Wellness, Metabolic Imprinting