The beginning of the new year is always a time to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the year ahead. Some of us want something to aid in making our jobs easier, some of us want to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better. As instructors and students, these can be really challenging goals to accomplish, with lesson planning, assignment writing, studying, homework, and other daily responsibilities.
According to a study in the Journal of American College Health, about 70% of college students experience significant weight gain between their freshman and sophomore years (Racette SB, Deusinger SS, Strube MJ, Highstein GR, Deusinger RH. Weight changes, exercise and dietary patterns during freshman and sophomore years of college. Journal of American College Health, vol. 53(6); pp. 245-251, May/June 2005). This “freshman 15″ (according to the study, the average was closer to nine pounds) is almost seen as a rite of passage in numerous circles; but, it’s a rite which has serious consequences for a student’s current and future life, as well as significant cost for the medical care needed to combat related disorders.
Research has shown that the best way to make sure that one has the benefits of an active life is to start young. Physical strength and health conditions peaks in one’s twenties, and has a deep impact on health throughout one’s lifespan (An ES, Park HJ, Yoon JH, Hong Y, Woo SK, Exercise and health life, Seoul Hyunmoonsa. 2009:257-269).
Of course, the benefits of regular exercise don’t just have long term health benefits, it also contributes to heightened focus, retention and an overall positive mood, all of which can mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful college career.