Culture and Physical Health

Algerian college students sitting in a classroom reading.
Algerian college students receive stress counselling.

As a student, you probably work to maintain good grades, have an active social life, and to stay healthy but there is a popular joke about what it’s like to be in college -You can only pick two of these things. The busy life of a college student doesn’t always allow you to maintain and balance all three areas of your life, especially around midterm and finals. Researchers found that students taking exams were more stressed, smoked more, drank more caffeine, had less physical activity, and had worse sleep habits (Oaten & Chang, 2005), all of which could have detrimental effects on their health. Positive health practices are especially important during times of stress, but how have habits you have been enculturated into shaped those practices? What are the similarities and differences in staying healthy as a college student in the United States compared to other countries?

Globally, human beings are living longer than ever but living a longer life does not necessarily mean we are living healthier. Researchers in the field of health want to improve our understanding of how social and technological advances in medicine and lifestyle are being undermined by increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy behaviors and widening gaps in access to health care. For centuries of human history, life expectancy has slowly and steadily risen for each generation; however, current unhealthy habits (smoking, substance abuse, obesity) may potentially threaten this trend. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the average youth of today may live less healthy, and even shorter, lives than their parents (Olshansky, et. al., 2005). If that is the case, today’s youth would be the first generation in modern, recorded history to NOT automatically be expected to outlive the generation that raised them.


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Culture and Psychology by L D Worthy; T Lavigne; and F Romero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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