Nutrition advice from a health nut

By Sara Scheler

September 4, 2013

A new semester is upon us, which means we must transition from summer jobs, pool parties and family vacations to classes, jam-packed schedules and late-night study sessions. Ugh.

If you are anything like me, diet and exercise are the first things that get ignored when school starts up. In the grand scheme of things, they may not seem very important, but in fact, diet and exercise are essential to maintaining a healthy brain and body—two things that are required for a successful semester.

It can be very difficult to get adequate amounts of exercise when you are sitting in class all day. To make matters worse, the chips and cookies your parents sent you are just too delicious to ignore.

Despite the factors that weigh against it, exercise is a relatively easy way to improve your mood, self-confidence, health, energy level, immune system and even your sleep patterns. Numerous studies have shown that exercise is healthy, beneficial and thoroughly worth your time. Not to mention it is a great way to take a break from your daily routine, to release any stress and any pent-up frustration or anxiety you may have.

If you are not one of the fortunate few who enjoys working out in the gym, don’t fret. There are many alternatives that will get you similar benefits. Here are a few rather obvious but important suggestions:

1)   Take the stairs! Seriously. Make it a habit and keep those calories burning all day long.

2)   Walk to the Priory and back (if you live there or just to explore.)

3)   Jog around River Forest. Take a different route every time and check out all the beautiful houses and locations.

4)   Bike. If you have a bike, use it! If you don’t, you can borrow one from the Welcome Desk in Lewis. Bike to a local restaurant or the grocery store rather than driving. Biking is free, fun and it saves gas money and fossil fuel.

5)   Zumba, Yoga or Kickboxing. Fitness classes start up next week (watch for flyers.) Group activities like these challenge you and keep you motivated.

6)   Take the long way to class. Our campus is not very big but think of how many extra steps you would take if you doubled your commute to and from classes.

7)   Make your social time active. Rather than sitting in the Cyber to chat, go on a walk with your friends. Instead of ordering pizza and watching a movie, walk to and from a restaurant. Get a group together, go downtown and explore the city on foot. 

8)   Find a fitness buddy (or two) to keep you motivated and hold each other accountable. There are tons of awesome websites and apps that you can use to upload your progress and set reasonable goals for yourself.

9)   Track your progress. Write down how much you do and how you felt in an exercise journal (start off with the sample below.) Then, try to exercise a bit more each week.

10)         Register for a fun-run. Oak Park hosts an annual Frank Lloyd Wright run in October and Dominican usually sends a group (email if you are interested.) The Cosmic Run is coming to Chicago on September 20 (think Color Run + dance party.) Sign up for one of these events so you have something to look forward to and train for during the busy school year.

Regular exercise is a worthy investment of your time and energy so make it a habit. (Remember: no matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.)