Fall quarter is approaching and the excitement of new friendships, sporting events and campus life mixed with the nervous feelings about unknown faculty and classes has everyone on their toes.
The textbooks have been purchased, the classrooms have been located and living arrangements have been carefully planned out.
However, one major detail students are likely to overlook this year is how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while balancing everything else on their plate.
College is filled with exhilarating events and opens up the door of opportunity, yet college will also be home to some of the most stressful times in a student’s life.
We’ve all heard the terrifying myths of the “freshmen fifteen” and how so many sleepless nights are spent peering at an open textbook.
Nevertheless, what many newcomers are about to find out is that these warnings are not just myths.
Lack of sleep won’t be uncommon due to strenuous study hours and ongoing exams. The majority of students will most likely grab junk food on the run between their jam-packed class schedule and study breaks.
Healthy eating habits are most often compromised during the weeks of midterms and finals when there just doesn’t seem to be any time to stop moving, let alone eat a balanced meal.
Many students on the go will find themselves searching their pockets for loose change in order to purchase a quick snack from the campus vending machines.
Sure, a little energy boost such as sweets sounds like an easy fix, but staying away from foods with sugar will help you function a lot easier throughout the day.
“The worst thing someone can do is grab a sugar fix to keep themselves awake,” said Cory Dawson, certified personal trainer at Kennedy Club Multiplex in San Luis Obispo.
“It will help you gain energy for a few hours but suddenly you’ll feel tired and crash.”
When it comes to your meal plan it seems that mom and dad really did know best and all those years of lecturing us to eat all of breakfast before running off to school wasn’t such bad advice.
“Foods like oatmeal, anything whole grain, fruits and juices are some quick fixes that you can grab on your way to class,” Dawson said. “Make sure to pack healthy snacks like protein bars, for example, to have when you don’t have time to pick up anything during breaks.”
Food isn’t the only fuel your body needs. Maintaining a regular
workout schedule will keep your energy level high and your body healthy.
“On average most people should exercise at least 30 to 45 minutes a day, but if schedules keep them from doing that much I would say no less than 3 to 4 days a week,” Dawson said. “Maintaining a good cardio routine with some added weightlifting a few times a week is a great way to stay on top of health problems.”
If maintaining your schedule isn’t your issue but instead you find that the hole burning the bottom of your pocket is more of a problem, then Cal Poly’s campus has all the answers.
There are many ways to stay healthy within campus bounds.
Just for starters, there are several restaurants and places to grab a healthy snack as you walk to class.
“The Campus Market is really popular with the students,” Cal Poly graduate Cole Reavis said. “When I had a break between classes I would always grab something to eat for lunch from there.”
If it is a good workout that you need, the campus itself is perfect for a good run. If you take a stroll around campus you will notice many other students taking their daily jog around the campus.
There is also the Cal Poly Rec Center, which is free and open to all students who have taken the time to get their PolyCards. The Rec Center offers a variety of exercise classes, swimming, a basketball court, cardio machines, weightlifting and racquetball.
“The gym on campus definitely comes in handy when you only have a short time to work out,” Reavis said. “You just have to make sure you go during the right time of day because it can get really busy.”
Perhaps you have been cooped up inside a classroom all day and being indoors doesn’t sound all that appealing. You can experience the great outdoors and escape campus without actually ever having to leave it.
For instance, you can walk into Poly Canyon by following the dirt road adjacent to the new Cerro Vista residence halls. Or for a more demanding workout, hike to the P on top of the hill. There are several hiking trails located on and off campus.
Once you try all this and still feel you want a little something more, you can challenge yourself by joining a campus club or team sport. Cal Poly offers everything from salsa and swing dancing to cross country.
Of course, keeping up with your day-to-day workout routine would be almost impossible without the right amount of sleep. Getting a quality amount of at least 7 hours of sleep a night has been the common recommendation given by health officials.
Stress, lack of sleep, poor eating habits and the inability to keep up a basic workout schedule are just the beggining if students let their lifestyle get out of control.
Depression is one of the most common outcomes of the stressful college lifestyle. The American College Health Association (ACHA) reports that the number of young men and women diagnosed with depression has increased from 10 to 16 percent in the last five years.
Also, 94 percent of the students surveyed last year said they felt “overwhelmed” at some time during the school year.
Depression is due to loneliness, hormonal changes, stress over careers, frustrated love affairs and money problems. It can cause a lack of appetite or weight gain, and insomnia.
ACHA also stresses that infections are common as well. When students spend so much time in crowded dorms and classrooms, they are subject to respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu.
A variety of factors including lack of sleep and exposure to crowded classrooms and dorms make students especially vulnerable to infections.
“The key is regular exercise, a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and dealing with any health problems right when they occur,” Dawson said.