The semester’s end is a busy time for college students. From impending finals to holidays and festivities, students’ health can be pushed to the back burner. Students may not consider their health in their day-to-day activities, but it is something of which they should be mindful.
Students’ tight schedules can make maintaining a well-balanced diet and regular exercise routine difficult. Though some may find it hard to incorporate a healthy life- style into their fall routine, Dorothy Reynolds said it will benefit students long term.
Reynolds is a USM alumna in nutrition and food systems and now works as adjunct faculty in the Payne Center. Students’ primary excuse for not exercising is a busy schedule.
“You don’t have to come to the gym for an hour and do it all in one lump,” Reynolds said. “Break it up into segments. You can utilize your dorm room, use the floor for push- ups or the chair and do tricep dips. Also do jumping jacks to keep you awake instead of grabbing for the chips while you’re studying.”
Anastasia Kasper, a junior nutrition major, has made maintaining a healthy lifestyle a prominent part of her college career. Despite her full schedule, she realized the importance of health practices.
“On the weekends, I like to sit down and reflect on all of my time commitments for the week,” Kasper said. “I write in my planner a time slot where I can fit in going to the Payne, whether that be at 6 a.m., in the middle of my classes or at 9 p.m. after all of my meetings and classes have passed.”
With limited time, budget and food options, healthy eating proves to be a challenge for many college students. Reynolds advises students prepare meals and snacks. If students have healthy options
on-hand that require little preparation, they will not be as inclined to grab the unhealthy fast foods and snacks.
“Maybe the night before or a week ahead of time, mix up a trail mix with nuts and dried fruit or pack fresh fruit and add an ice pack to your lunchbox,” Reynolds said. “Simple things like that will allow you to have things like that at all times and you won’t be tempted to grab chips out of the vending machine.”
Proper hydration is a critical part of a healthy diet. Students should steer clear of drinks with high caffeine content. Energy drinks and some coffee beverages have high amounts of both caffeine and sugar. Coffee without added creams and sugars is a slightly healthier option. Reynolds advises getting adequate sleep instead of consuming caffeine.
“Get plenty of sleep so you’re not so stressed out (because) lack of sleep can cause weight gain as well,” Reynolds said.
Water is one of the major nutrients of the body. It is important to every metabolic process in one’s body. Dietary recommendation for how much water people should be drinking is about 13 cups per day for men and 9 for women. These numbers should increase for peo- ple who are more active. Students should consume this amount to ensure their bodies are nourished, cleansed and more alert. The changing season impacts the im- portance of water.
“Hydration during the holidays is just as important as hydration dur- ing the summer months,” Reynolds said. “Any weather extreme can cause a person to be dehydrated, so you want to make sure that you have adequate water intake.”
Staying healthy during the holidays is an important practice. Many people do not consider their health choices during this time. Reynolds said that mindset should be avoided.
“Treat a holiday like it’s a regular day,” Reynolds said. “Moderation is key. Stay focused on the big picture focus on long-term goals, not short-term goals. Stay active—so you want to be sure that you’re burning fuel as you’re taking in fuel.”
Switching to healthier lifestyle might be difficult but will help to make student life better. Making time to exercise can be a way to re-energize.
“It is important to let your mind and body rejuvenate from all the stress and tension that is put on it during long nights and days of studying,” Kasper said.
This change is possible by making small steps to get to the end goal. Incorporating quick workouts and alternating to healthier meals can become a part of everyday life.
“One of the biggest ways a person can get geared (toward) living a healthy lifestyle is to surround themselves who are geared in the same direction,” Reynolds said.