Health and education: A primer

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Health and education: A primer

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University offers wellness opportunities to students

With the first day of classes looming, Saint Louis University students prepare for the oncoming lifestyle changes associated with the college life. Academic rigors, social demands, extracurricular activities and relationships call for an adjustment from the relaxation of summer. In the whirlwind of activities, college students often cast to the side two of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of success- diet and exercise.

By: Brianna Radici and Shah (Yuqing Xia)

“The stress and the change in your schedule has an effect,” Glen Kemper, Simon Recreation Center Fitness Coordinator said. “I mean, you have a pretty structured high school life. College life has much more unstructured time”.

Living in a fast-paced environment, it can be challenging to select healthy foods and find time to get to the gym.  Fortunately for SLU students and programs, institutions exist to help students lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

The Simon Recreation Center offers a host of fitness options aside from their fitness center and swimming pool. Some classes offered include dance, yoga and group exercise. All students are welcome to join for a small fee.

A new fitness class has been added to the bevy of choices at the Simon Rec. Starting this fall, a kettlebell training class will be available.

“That is a class I think will appeal to both ladies and men both because kettlebell training does wrap in the strength component as well as agility and flexibility,” Eric Anderson, Simon director said.

In addition to the fitness classes available, inside the Simon Rec is a wellness suite available to faculty and students free of charge. Inside the suite are health DVDs and handouts, and can even have their body fat percentage measured.

Anderson also noted that attendance at the Simon Rec peaks in the beginning of the semester, but tapers off as the year wears on. Exercise will not solve the problem by itself, however. Nutrition plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“One thing I would say about fitness and nutrition and tying those together, one thing that I have felt is that it is easier to make healthy choices in how you are eating and the amount of food you are eating,” said Anderson. “The best exercise is the “push away” method- the one which you push yourself away from the table”.

Billiken Dining Services has been promoting healthy eating through their “Balanced U” program. Inside of the Griesdieck Cafeteria, students can choose a nutritionally balanced meal at every lunch and dinner. The menus are updated daily through social media platforms.

“The menus are updated through the Billiken Dining website and through Facebook everyday, so students can look before they come,” said Mary Dunn, Billiken Dining Services marketing director.

On the Billiken Dining Services website, students can also view menus, nutrition guides, and recipes specifically tailored towards college students. The website includes tools which calculates body mass index and resting metabolic rates, both of which can aid students in assessing their fitness. Furthermore, a nutrition journal is available to help students track their eating habits.

Billiken Dining Services is also beginning a program called “Dining with Dan and Deena”. The program features Dan Conniff, the executive chef for Billiken Dining Services, and Deena Barry, the head dietician, providing nutritional and food preparation advice to students.

“[Conniff] will cook in front of everyone and talk about what he’s cooking and give tips, and [Barry] will jump in and provide nutritional information and they will both be available for questions,” said Dunn.

Barry, whose office is in Griesdieck, is available to students for questions regarding nutrition and diet.

“If anyone wants an answer, they can stop in and ask her directly,” said Paul Taylor, Billiken Dining Services resident district manager.

Other factors can present challenges to a healthy lifestyle in college. Stress, lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns and alcohol consumption can all have adverse effects on students’ well-being.

“One of the biggest concerns I have about students is that they are skipping meals especially breakfast and that’s the worst meal of the day to skip. You need to have a healthy breakfast to do what you have to do during the day, like study” said Barry.

Although SLU offers resources to help students maintain healthy lifestyles, when all is said and done, it comes down to personal choices and discipline.

“People sometimes have a tendency to get in a rut and eat the same thing such as hamburgers and French fries because they are so readily available,” said Taylor. “It comes down to making smart choices.”