• Jannie Schmidt
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
Problem area
Health and physical activity get a lot of attention for the moment. The subjects get attention in the media, in debates and some business introduced healthcare systems for employees. Despite this attention and a steady increase in exercise opportunities, studies show that 30-40% of the Danish adult population is insufficiently physically active(Christensen et al. 2010 p. 13). The health threats and effects of the low level of activity are supported by several studies, and there are numerous campaigns that have attention focused on the need for an active life(Christensen et al., 2010 p. 33-34). These campaigns seem to be efficient to get attention and provide information about physical activity and health, but the process of changing towards a more active life is somewhat less supported in research(Ibid. p. 13).
Research has shown indicates that the so called "less resourceful persons" experiencing challenges and a general aversion against change. A change in lifestyle among this group seems to be strongly influenced by their social situation and the surroundings seem to be important for their health-promoting actions (Ibid. p. 68). In a job satisfaction survey among child-minders shows a desire for better recognition and enhanced reputation of their job function, in order to increase their job satisfaction and complacency(Ibid. p.1). In light of this, the involved municipality has established weight stop scenario where mental health, diet and physical activity are key areas. The course is based on public health recommendations for lifestyle changes, called "Small Steps - for a healthier life"(Mikkelsen, 2009a). The long-term effect of such a course is still questionable, and the lack of knowledge about how a lifechange is embedded to a permanent lifestyle, in order to fight inactivity diseases (Christensen et al., 2010 p. 13). Based on this the following problem is raised:

"What is health among child-minders and what interaction do the
child-minders resources, lifestyle and health practices have with health?"
To get the child-minders stories and information about their knowledge of health actions, I will let myself to be inspired by the ethnographic method - interviewing. Ethnographic studies can contribute to knowledge that is rooted in human experience, occurred in a certain context. Annick Prieur writes about the interview as a research method:
"... With a look from the outside, we can try to understand the things, the involved people can’t understand themselves because it would imply that they were questioning something they have invested heart and soul in." (Prieur, 2002 p. 113)(Translated)
The empirical basis for this report consist four semi-structured interviews with three child-minders and one project manager. The interviews are lasting approx. 20-35 minutes each. All of the child-minders experience themselves as active, and they exercise regularly 2-3 times a week and have been active for 2-3 month.
The child-minders understand health as being a combination of healthy food, exercise and mental health. This may have arisen in relation to the project manager in project Small Steps, as the project manager also focuses on diet and exercise, but also as a result of the massive attention health has in the Danish society and in the child-minders professionally life. When the child-minders mention health, it seems important to them that they get energetic and freedom of movement in their daily life as a result of their health promotion activities.
The child-minders resources in their live is a complex matter which naturally is influenced by many factors, including their professional status and appearance seem to be important. The body has a strong social significance, and if the child-minder is aware of the stigma that exists among obesity other things in Danish society, this will affect their habitus and self-esteem.
The child-minders in this project feel like other inactive Danes that their lack of physical activity is due to priorities of the family (children) and housing are prioritized higher than the child-minders exercise habits. In order to increase their exercise habits they need to involve the family, because the family structure had to change. Healthy lifestyle is a process and not a linear course that follows a rational action pattern. Lifestyle changes goes beyond the individual, and the relationship to the others involved in the process. The social relationships such as family must accept the changes and simultaneously modify their habitus and the relationship they have with child-minder. An active community gives the child-minders a distinctive kick to launch the active life because the community commits and gives security. It is important for the child-minder and their social relations that they don’t change their behavior in an extreme degree. It is crucial not to be too knowingly about health improvement because it can exclude the child-minder from their social contexts. The social relationships have the potential to develop character, promote and demand change, but also it have the possibility of maintaining the person and slow down progress.
The workplace could be one of the places where the society could require and enable physical activity in a more structured process. Some companies have already exercise regimes and some even offer exercise during working hours. Health promotion at work is not new initiatives and the prospect of reducing inactivity and, increasing job satisfaction are some of the positive consequences (Rasmussen & Martinussen, 2006 p. 65-66). Contrary to this, it is debatable where the boundaries of how much work can and should interfere in the employees' personal choices. If exercise is offered and even been performed during working hours, it can be hard as an employee to refuse the opportunity. Throughout my analysis, it is clear that health and lifestyle changes not only affect the individual, and therefore it is necessary to consider more social structural motion actions that increasingly encourages Danes to exercise together.
The challenge about activity levels in the population is far from simple to solve. It is therefore important that we not forget that the individual also has a responsibility in this matter. We can build all the sports halls, expanding school sports activities, etc., but if the individual family and the persons not help to lift the responsibility of a more active community, it also will fail. Society is, according to Bourdieu created on the basis of the habitus, which moves in it(Prieur, 2002 p. 113).
Publication date31 May 2012
Number of pages49
ID: 63428214