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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tips to Avoid the "Freshman 15"

As some freshmen head off to college this fall, they will be gaining more than just knowledge - they will be putting on a little extra weight.  Many factors, such as heavy class loads and longer studying periods interrupt normal sleep and eating patterns and make less time for physical activity.  And, all too often, late night studying while eating pizza is the norm.  Although some view the "Freshmen 15" as a "rites of passage," the additional pounds can have some negative health consequences later in life.

Last year, The American Council on Exercise (ACE) released these recommendations to help freshmen keep their weight, and health, in check.
  • Get Active:  Instead of hitching a car ride with your roommate, walk or ride your bike to classes and other areas on campus.  Also, consider enrolling in courses that require you to be physically active during the class.  In addition, many colleges and universities have a campus recreation center which provides an opportunity to participate in intramural sports and/or group fitness classes.  The exercise will not only help you to control your body weight, but can reduce stress as well; thus, improving your overall health.
  • Make Nutritious Choices:  No one is saying to completely nix the pizza and study party, but moderation is key.  Opt for one slice and fill up on fruit and veggies.  Better yet, grab a whole grain bagel and top with low-sodium tomato sauce and reduced-fat cheese to satisfy your pizza craving without the additional calories and fat.  Many dorms will allow you to have a mini refrigerator in your room and some even have microwaves located in community gathering rooms that can be accessed to make quick and easy meals and snacks.
  • Eat Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner:  Research shows that those individuals who eat a daily breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.  It is a good idea to keep non-perishable foods, such as whole-grain cereal (which can be eaten dry if need be) and meal replacement bars, stocked in your dorm room for those days that your class schedule interferes with your ability to make it to the campus dining hall.
  • Choose Healthy Snacks:  Your brain needs energy to tackle long studying sessions.  However, foods high in fat and sugar will just leave you sluggish and drained a few hours later.  Choosing snacks that have a good balance between protein and carbs is the best way to go.  Yogurt and low-fat granola or a handful of nuts and dried fruit make great snacks that will give you the mental stamina you need without the "bottoming out" effect.
  • Stress Be Gone:  Stress leads to an elevation in cortisol levels which can trigger appetite.  Try to manage stress through relaxation techniques and take regular study breaks.  Deep breathing exercises and walking are good ways to relieve stress.
  • Don't Underestimate the Power of Sleep:  Unfortunately, "college life" can interfere with your sleep schedule.  Lack of quality sleep can lead to weight gain.  Research has shown that sleep deprivation can interfere with hunger regulation leading to an increase in appetite and cravings for fatty and sugary foods.  Ideally, you want to get 8 hours of sleep.
  • Alcohol Equals Calories:  Most freshmen are not of legal drinking age anyway.  However, if you are of age, recognize that alcoholic beverages can contain high amounts of calories.  Alcohol also can stimulate the hunger center leading to consumption of unnecessary calories.  Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
The "Freshman 15" is not inevitable.  Making adjustments that allow for adequate amounts of exercise and consuming a balanced, nutrient dense diet can help ward off weight gain.  Make your healthy lifestyle habits social - invite your roommates, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and other friends to join you in your efforts.

The American  Council on Exercise

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Blogger The Single Mothers Chronicles said...

Ok see I avoided them in 1986 (ack!) when I was a freshman...however they have since *snuck* in and outta my life repeatedly!!

I wish I had these good habits back when I was a kid!


August 7, 2010 at 5:57 PM 

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