By: ALLISSA CORAK
Homework, exams, work, club meetings and more homework. Where does exercise and the maintenance of personal health fit into the madness of college life?
The balancing act can sometimes be tricky but it isn’t impossible.
According to health sciences professor Dawn Hopkins, students oftentimes feel they don’t have the time or they lack motivation to make healthy choices. “Sometimes convenience trumps what the healthy choice is,” she said.
Students don’t always have to make time for the gym, though, she added. Sometimes they can simply use the time they already have.
This could mean parking on the opposite side of campus and walking a bit farther to class. Hopkins said exercise doesn’t have to last more than ten minutes at a time. “If you put ten minutes together three times a day, that’s equal to 30 minutes. That’s just as good,” she said. “So if you have a break between classes, instead of sitting in a chair, walk around the building. Walk outside. People have ten minutes. People don’t necessarily have 30 minutes.”
For some students like junior and frequent gym-goer Sawyer Reynolds, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about doing what you can when you can and thinking ahead about meals.
“I maintain a routine that works in my schedule. I meal prep and eat around the same time every day. My workout is fit in around my class and work schedules,” he said.
Fatigue through the day is Reynolds’ biggest enemy.
He finds the energy by taking supplements before his workout, making it easier to get one of his six weekly workouts in.
While exercise is a critical element to a healthy lifestyle, diet choices are just as important.
Hopkins and Reynolds agree that planning meals ahead of time can make all the difference.
“Yeah, meal prep is great if you can do it on the weekend,” Hopkins said. “But actually thinking about what you’re going to eat in the future… then you can plan instead of ‘Oh, God, I don’t have anything at home. I need to stop at McDonalds.’ So I think a little bit of forethought goes along way.”
What about those five servings of fruits and vegetables recommended each day? A carton of strawberries doesn’t exactly last long in the fridge.
It is a common misconception that frozen fruits and veggies are not as beneficial. According to Hopkins, that is a myth. She encourages busy students to invest in them because they last much longer than the fresh stuff.
But her favorite way of getting the fresh stuff is as easy as making a quick trip to Martin’s Supermarkets and hitting up their salad bar. “It’s not that expensive. It’s good. It’s fresh, and doesn’t require a whole lot of forethought,” Hopkins said.
There are more benefits to eating well and working out than just toning up. In an article published by ABC News, a study of the connection between physical activity and academic performance conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, showed memory, self-esteem and verbal skills were among the improvements noted in students.
Reynolds agrees with the findings, saying having a routine for working out and finishing up homework makes it easier to stick to a schedule.
Through it all, the driving force is motivation.
If finding that drive is challenging, joining exercise groups or taking a class such as weightlifting, basketball, or running could ease the pressure.
For Reynolds and many other students, it’s a personal drive that makes them push themselves. “What keeps you going when it’s hard is remembering what you’re working for. You’re doing it for you, not for anyone else,” he said.
But don’t be discouraged if you fall off track or have trouble getting started. Treat every day by Hopkins’ wise words, “Each day is a new day.”