Home > The lifestyle behaviours and exercise beliefs of undergraduate student nurses. A descriptive study.

Burke, Eimear and McCarthy, Bernard (2011) The lifestyle behaviours and exercise beliefs of undergraduate student nurses. A descriptive study. Health Education, 111, (3), pp. 230-240. DOI 10.1108/09654281111123501.

Purpose – Only limited published research is available exploring the lifestyle practices of student nurses. The purpose of this paper is to explore the lifestyle behaviours and exercise beliefs of Irish student nurses.

Design/methodology/approach – A descriptive survey design was used. First-year and third-year undergraduate student nurses (n ¼ 182) studying at one Irish university participated. Data were collected by administering self-report questionnaires.

Findings – A total of 20 per cent of the students smoked, 95 per cent consumed alcohol and 19 per cent of the females reported that they exceeded the recommended weekly safe level for alcohol consumption. In total, 73 per cent of the students reported exercising two to five times per week, and
walking was the most popular exercise undertaken. The male students reported significantly higher fitness levels and exercised more on a weekly basis than the females. The students identified a range of benefits of and barriers to exercising.

Research limitations/implications – There are a number of study limitations, including: only one university setting was used; a descriptive survey approach was employed; and data were collected using self-report questionnaires. Further studies need to be conducted with additional data collection methods to explore students’ lifestyle and physical activity behaviours.

Practical implications – The university, as a setting for health promotion, must increase awareness, facilitate and encourage student nurses to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviours.

Originality/value – This survey revealed the lifestyle and exercise behaviours of Irish student nurses. Lower levels of smoking and higher levels of physical activity were found amongst these student nurses than those reported elsewhere in the literature.

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