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Avoiding Freshman 15

December 15th, 2010 Posted in Opinion
By Erika Rasmussen
Between classes, jobs, and social lives, there is no doubt that college students are always on the go. Unfortunately, gaining the Freshman 15 is an existing phenomenon at Utah State University, and its cause can be attributed to this busy lifestyle. In 2005, 186 freshmen participated in a USU Health Study. The students were weighed during the first and last week of fall semester, and results showed 23 percent of students experienced at least a 5 percent increase in body weight over the course of the semester.

How then do we overcome the common weight gain during our early years as college students? Kenzie Nethercott, nutrition major at USU, believes the increase in weight comes from not having time to cook nutritious meals as well as not making time to exercise.

Fast food is a popular option for college students when they are hungry and don’t have time to cook. The problem with this is that a meal at McDonald’s including a Big Mac, fries, and a drink contains 1350 calories, which is over half of the average person’s daily calorie intake. The first step to a healthier lifestyle is making time to prepare meals with proper nutritious value. According to the USU Freshmen Health Study, eating fewer vegetables increased the risk of weight gain. Also, students have a tendency to snack while studying. Rather than eating junk food with empty calories, choosing healthy snacks such as apples or carrots will help prevent gaining those extra pounds.

The second part of a healthy lifestyle requires making time for exercise. “We aren’t as active as we used to be,” said USU sophomore Amanda Bodily. Lack of physical activity is the most common factor responsible for obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy. Too often college students become so overwhelmed with the stresses of life that they think they don’t have time to exercise. In reality, exercise is exactly what they need to relieve tension. Exercising releases endorphins, and the release of these chemicals from the brain has been proven to positively affect mood and reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Not only does working out cause feelings of happiness, but it allows you to stay physically fit and aids in weight maintenance. This doesn’t mean tedious workouts and trips to the gym must be taken repeatedly. There are plenty of opportunities to be physically active on campus while still having fun. For example, register for a physical education class. A variety of classes are offered through USU including volleyball, basketball, aerobics, and dance. Participating in the Big Blue Race Series is another way to get involved, make new friends, and stay physically active.
Following these simple steps will lead you to a healthier lifestyle, and help you avoid gaining those extra pounds that are too familiar to busy college students.


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