By NICOLE NIGRO
A lack of hearty, home cooked meals or taking physical education in college, most students’ decline in physical fitness begins at the prime of their lives.
According to the 2012 American Journal of Preventative Medicine research study on the health and fitness of college students, “more than half (54 percent) of adults…in the United States are overweight.”
With an increasing, overweight percentage, the reason boils down to the college years of students. Being in one of the biggest transitional phases of an adult’s life, the health habits made or broken in this time period make a difference on a student’s future health.
“College students are always thinking of the wrong thing when they think of health fitness,” Casey Rose, 20, a personal fitness trainer and nutritionist from Passaic N.J. says.
“Being healthy does not mean having a six-pack or huge biceps. It means treating your body like a holy place and providing it with all the nutrients and vitamins it deserves,” Rose says. “It’s all in the small things you do during the day.”
The majority of bad habits include not reading food labels, extreme dieting (as in not eating at all or skipping meals), and most importantly, not sleeping enough.
Staying Healthy and Fit During the Cold Weather
Donna Flynn, a nurse and nursing instructor at Ramapo College, states that to stay fit, students should be reading food labels, exercising, and watching what they eat. “Students interested in remaining healthy should be eating healthy. This includes a well-balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables,” Flynn says.
Another important aspect of staying healthy is reading food labels correctly. “Only reading calories [on a food label] is not the key to being healthy,” Rose says.
“In addition to calories, one should also read food labels. One should limit carbohydrates, saturated fats, and salt in the diet. Salt is found naturally in food, but is more prevalent in processed meats, fast foods, and canned foods. Students interested in limiting salt in their diet should avoid canned foods,” Flynn says.
No Excuses: Staying Motivated and Smart about Health
“If I could emphasize on thing to college students, it would be to not use time as an excuse for not exercising,” Rose says. “All you need is 10 minutes a day. Remember the Internet is a wonderful fitness tool. Websites I recommend are Tone it Up, Body Rock TV, and any fitness magazine has wonderful online recipes, exercises, and motivation.”
“Students can “fit” fitness into a busy schedule by going for a morning run before classes,” Flynn says. “The Bradley Center is available to students, faculty and staff. Walking from the parking lots or dorms can also provide opportunities for fitness in a busy schedule. Of course, there is also nearby malls which provide exercise opportunities as well as some diversion from studies.”
The other motivation killer is the upcoming cold weather. Not many students are inclined to go for a run on a frigid, cold day.
“As a health professional, there are many ways for Ramapo students to stay fit during cold weather. They include proper nutrition, exercise and getting adequate sleep,” Flynn says.
According to the CDC, not sleeping enough is an epidemic in the teen community. Sleep should be top priority for all those who wish to stay healthy during the upcoming cold weather.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should be sleeping at least seven to eight hours each night.
The best defense against the common cold or the flu is sleep.
“Dressing appropriate to the weather and immunization against the flu are important considerations to maintain health,” Flynn says.
The college years are also the beginning of risky health behaviors such as smoking, alcoholic consumptions, and even drugs.
Flynn pushes the importance of not smoking. “The most important aspect of health and fitness would be to not smoke or stop smoking if you are currently a smoker,” Flynn says. “Many illnesses are complicated by a smoking history.”
Social Connections for Better Health Results
Many social networking sites have motivational fitness pages that help people get healthy together. One example is the new Jillian Michael’s DietBet Weight Loss Challenge. Here, anyone can participate in staying healthy by betting on his or her own success.
“These social media health challenges are my favorite,” Rose says. “I tell all my clients that fitness can not be done alone. Having a support system really helps results show a lot quicker. Creating or becoming apart of a community that focuses on health is the best way to stay healthy all year round.”
So for all you readers who wish to stay healthy this upcoming cold season, get your check lists out and write down the following essentials to staying healthy; read your food labels and choose the right food every opportunity you get, exercise at least five to 10 minutes each day, sleep at least seven hours a night, dress adequately, and support one another to stay healthy.
Doug’s Comments: Definitely a really good story. I was very surprised to hear that teens aren’t getting enough sleep, seems like a lot of them like to sleep all day. Good job, don’t have to change much besides a few spelling and grammar errors.