College-aged youth often forget how important is to stay healthy; we feel invincible, untouchable and in control of every aspect of our lives. However, when it comes to exercising and staying healthy, this may not always be the case, especially as time goes on.
Seann McArdle, the Fitness Lab coordinator at the Student Life Center (SLC), said he believes that exercise and nutrition can play a pivotal role in students’ lives.
“In my mind, [exercise] is equally as important as academics,” McArdle said. “My hope is that students make the connection between maintaining what we define as ‘good overall wellness.’”
He said he believes that if students maintain a healthy sense of wellness across multiple dimensions such as academic, physical and social, they’ll have a more successful career and life ahead of them.
McArdle acknowledged a certain pitfall that students might encounter when trying to factor healthy habits into their daily lives: convenience. “In most instances, the nearest source of food is not high quality food,” he said. “Students have to make decisions to find healthier choices to eat.”
Exercise, nutrition and a healthier diet can help to bolster a student’s physical wellness.
Unhealthy life choices will catch up with those who choose to ignore their consequences, according to McArdle. “[When you’re younger], you don’t tend to notice the little things that might creep up; aches and pains, maybe a little excess body fat. As we age, our capacity diminishes," he said.
McArdle, as well as the other members of the Fitness Lab staff, advise students to make healthier choices now before their abilities erode. Bill Brewer, director of the Exercise Science program, reinforced this point.
“The decade of one’s 20s is when your metabolism is most adaptable to producing a change from an activity … This is why we try to encourage students to develop these habits now.”
Both Brewer and McArdle recognize and stress the benefits students can reap from the Wellness Program.
“A student who sees the wellness requirements as an obstacle is really cutting themselves short,” Brewer said. “[They are] losing a big opportunity to have physical fitness be a huge part of their daily activities.”
There are multiple services the university offers to students to help them stay healthy. McArdle coordinates the multitude of personal trainers and fitness staff that help students set goals and work toward a healthier lifestyle, known as the Wellness Instructional Program. Individual and team intramural and club sports are also available for those who wish to pursue an athletic program, and numerous events and courses designed to educate and encourage students on topics within the exercise and nutrition fields are available.
Nicole LeGault, a second year Mechanical Engineering Technology major, said she considers exercise to be an incredibly crucial part of her life. “I try to work out five days a week. It’s a stress reliever for me. You can’t be consumed [by] books all the time.” She said her motivation comes from self-improvement. “I just want to get stronger.”
LeGault is just one of the many students who work at the SLC. As a supervisor, her job is to make sure students use the equipment properly and to complete tasks needed around the facility. LeGault said she feels as though working at the SLC has helped foster her interest and knowledge in exercise. She said she incorporates many strategies in order to stay healthy, including getting enough sleep and eating healthy; she mentioned that making a protein shake is a huge part of her exercise and nutrition habits.
At a young age, it’s very hard to imagine the consequences a sedentary lifestyle can have, so it is important to develop and maintain healthy lifestyle choices now before the aging process really starts to catch up with us.