Sport Science Lecturer Awarded PhD
Lecturer in the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS), Dr Patrick Mkhanyiseli Zimu graduated with a PhD in Health Sciences (Sport Science).
‘This is an exciting and great achievement, not only for me but my family and my entire community,’ said Zimu. ‘I intend to continue to study with the aim of becoming a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researcher and obtaining full professorship.’
His study aimed to develop an intervention programme to curb sedentary lifestyles and promote physical activity among adolescents, particularly in rural and township communities. ‘The research measured current health behaviours and stages of change in adolescents and provided tailor-made intervention strategies that focus on behaviour change and promotion of physical activity,’ said Zimu. The programme (Nyakaza - move-for-health) produced significant changes in physical activity levels, body mass and cardiorespiratory fitness levels among participants.
‘The study targeted a hard-to-reach population (adolescents), and there were many challenges in terms of getting them to participate. However, through forging partnerships with various sectors of the community, I managed to work with the group,’ he added.
Zimu said that the study is a novel contribution to the promotion of public health: ‘To the best of my knowledge, this is the first study describing the systematic development of a community-school linked physical activity intervention to stimulate physical activity among adolescents.’
He described his PhD journey as challenging, but a good learning experience. It was difficult to obtain funding; however, support from the NRF and the College of Health Sciences ensured successful completion of his study. The Young Researchers’ Development programmes offered by UKZN and the University Capacity Development Programmes (UCDP) capacitated him with the necessary skills to conduct his research.
Zimu is from KwaSwayimana on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg and he completed his matric at Masijabule High School.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini