Roughly 87% of graduate students and 81% of undergraduate students considered their health to be good, great or excellent in 2019, according to the National College Health Assessment Report recorded by the American College Health Association (ACHA).
Despite the students’ strong belief that they were healthy, only 64.3% of college students exercised the recommended 150 minutes a week.
Additionally, only 8% of graduate students and 4% of undergraduate students consumed the five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
In addition to improving physical health, daily exercise benefits mental health. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reported that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour a day reduces major depression by 26%.
If exercise provides these boosts to students’ lives, why are they not exercising enough?
Leslie Dooley, fitness coordinator at the Recreation Center, believes one of the reasons why students fail to reach the recommended 150 minutes a week is because their expectations of what exercise should be differ from what it actually is.
“Fitness doesn’t have to just take place inside the rec center,” Dooley said. “It can take place in the dorm, or outside on the Front Lawn; it can take place anywhere.”
However, Dooley said exercise can be intimidating to some students due to the pressure to perform at the level at which others exercise.
“We all start somewhere and everybody has a different fitness level,” Dooley said “Let’s just find what works for you. If that is coming in maybe once a week to the Rec Center, or maybe twice, for 20 or 30 minutes, then let’s start there. We can build from there.”
She also recommends joining intramural sports or the Adventure Club as a way for students to get involved physically and socially at California Baptist University.
Regarding healthy eating, one of the largest problems students have with eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is confusion as to what a serving of fruits and vegetables consists of. Online health resource MedlinePlus defines a serving of fruit and vegetables as equivalent to what will fit in the palm of your hand.
Alyssa Hernandez, junior nutrition major, emphasized the significance of healthy eating and the cost of being oblivious to what one eats.
“You only get one body and you need to take care of it,” Hernandez said. “Your body is an investment for your future health. Heart disease is the country’s No. 1 killer; why would we risk adding to that?”
Hernandez said eating healthy is crucial, practical and manageable for students, especially when CBU has many healthy dining options.
“It’s simple to fulfill the needed servings because every dining area always offers fruits and a selection of vegetables to include with meals,” Hernandez said. “Many places like Wanda’s or El Monte allow you to have fun with vegetables by letting you control what you put on your plate.”
However, Ambar Arellanez, junior nutrition major, said she realizes that adjusting one’s diet can be difficult at first.
“I would suggest at least incorporating fruit and veggies in one meal once a day,” Arellanez said. “Getting a green smoothie at Shake Smart is a great alternative.”
Both Hernandez and Arellanez recommend implementing small dietary changes to make a larger impact on one’s personal health. Hernandez’s tips include being careful with late-night eating, choosing water over soft drinks and exercising daily.
Arellanez also listed a few substitutions for unhealthy foods that she personally implements into her own habits.
“Instead of eating chips you could eat bell peppers with hummus,” Arellanez said. “Other examples include eating fruit instead of candy, cheese and crackers instead of frozen snacks and whole grain bread with avocado instead of pastries.”
CBU provides students with many opportunities to exercise and eat healthy. However, it is up to students to us the services offered to implement a healthier life.