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Healthy lifestyle leads to improved college experience

Words by Hallie Saculla

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Amidst a rigorous academic schedule, students may not acknowledge the importance of taking care of themselves. From exercising frequently to maintaining a balanced diet, prioritizing one’s health is vital for success.

“I think it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college for both my health and my sanity,” says Kelsie Lichtenstein, a senior majoring in fashion merchandising. “When I eat healthy meals, I feel more awake and able to pay attention in class. When I work out regularly, I give myself an after class routine and having a routine stops me from being lazy when it comes to studying.”

Chelsey Ludwiczak, a local registered and licensed dietitian, suggests establishing a routinely diet hearty of whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables to provide sustainable energy. If one frequently consumes high carbohydrate, sugary items, it may hinder success as those foods rapidly spike blood sugar, inclining one to feel sluggish soon after.

Maintaining a healthy diet is important throughout all stages of life, but can be of particular importance during one’s young adult life and college years.

“Whether students are purchasing their own groceries or making menu decisions in a cafeteria on a university food plan, they are making an informed, independent choice that becomes habitual over time,” Ludwiczak says. “If a student independently develops positive eating habits and opts for more nutrient dense food, this may set the foundation for subsequent years while aging into their adult life.”

Making the right diet choices also increases energy; however, this can only be done through a comprehensive healthy diet.

“If you were to consume candy bars and soda all day, an addition of one cup of green tea is not going to give you the energy it may be associated with,” Ludwiczak says.

The human body requires “fuel” to operate properly and provide energy. Ludwiczak suggests eating three complete, balanced meals with one to two protein-rich snacks in between to help feel focused. Limit condensed sweets, such as cookies, cakes and pies, as they offer little to no nutritional benefit.

Ludwiczak recommends planning meals ahead to prevent eating fast food. Additionally, having prepared foods to eat on the go, such as hard boiled eggs, low-fat cheese sticks or apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter, will dismiss making poor diet decisions when hungry.

“The five to ten minutes of preparing your meals in advance will offer you a notable benefit of knowing what is in your dish and how it was prepared: something you have limited knowledge and control of when purchasing your meals from outside sources,” Ludwiczak says.

Eating clean is only one step to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college. Sticking to an exercise routine can transform one’s body, whether it is to lose weight or tone muscles, provide substantial energy or ease stress and anxiety.

Personal trainer and Kent State alumna Alyssa Rich suggests students do whatever it takes to make working out an active part of one’s life. By doing this, working out will become more habitual over time.

“It can be tough to schedule time to exercise for busy students, but it’s important to schedule time for regular workouts,” Rich says. “There are many benefits students can gain from working out besides the obvious physical aspect such as stress relief, improved mood and improved immunity.”

By releasing endorphins, hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system that improve one’s mood, exercising can also relieve stress, lessen the sensation of pain and provide energy. Rich believes that exercise is the most underused remedy to combat stress and anxiety.

While Rich recommends working out three days a week for at least 45 minutes, she says that any activity is better than nothing. Everybody has different preferences, and Rich suggests to find what you enjoy, whether it be Zumba, yoga, weight training or running outside, learn as much as you can about it and stick to a steady routine of activity.

This advice holds truth for Lichtenstein who embraces aerial yoga regularly.

“I get addicted to my workouts, so they become part of my life,” Lichtenstein says. “Keeping a fitness schedule can really help to both keep you in shape and to give you something to do other than Netflix and school. Fitness should never feel like a strain on your life.”

If a student can’t make it to the gym or participate in group classes, Rich recommends doing exercises such as the ones demonstrated here. She also suggests having a pair of hand weights close by to keep muscles active.

For more information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, contact your local health care provider or Kent State’s DeWeese Health Center.

Hallie Saculla is the fitness and recreation reporter for The Burr.

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