The importance of fitness and healthy eating

Photo by Madeline McInnis

The transition from August to September is difficult for many university students.

A four month break from studying is not easy to overcome, even if most people are working during the summer.

The university mindset is much different and students often find themselves falling behind in the first month of the school year.

Although many people may describe this as simply “going through the motions,” there are several solutions to this problem; none more important than maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“We do see a lot of students who are struggling with mental illness, students who feel that their mental health is not where they like it to be,” said Julie Gamble, a mental health nurse at the Wilfrid Laurier University Student Wellness Centre.

“I usually look at the big picture, like their lifestyle and which aspects they can improve on. Whether it’s instead of medication or with medication, fitness is always a key piece to health and a key part of recovery from mental illness,” she added.

This problem of a lack of physical activity is compounded during exam time.

Students often make statements such as “I’m going to spend 12 hours in the library today,” without realizing how much that actually harms their mental health.

Gamble mentioned the inefficiency of students and how they can make better use of their time.

“People always tell me that they don’t have time. But when you look at it, they’re spending their time reading the same chapter four times over and still not understanding it,” Gamble said.

“So instead of doing that they could have gone for a walk, or a run, gone to the gym and then focus on the chapter and spend less time overall.”

The other side of this equation, healthy eating, is just as important as staying fit.

People are quick to mention how expensive healthy food can be, but that does not mean that they should resort to junk food.

Although it may seem convenient for students due to how inexpensive it is and how much time they save by avoiding cooking, Gamble pointed out how crucial it is to resist that urge.

“There’s a few different options. If they live with other people, often doing group meal preps are really helpful. In the seasons that allow it in Canada, there are some community gardens where you can get heathy food for very little or no money,” said Gamble.

“If they don’t live with others, I tell them to look at their meal prep, to look at what they do have available and then make the best out of the situation,” Gamble said.

“It may not always be the optimal choice, but it may be a better choice. It’s not just ‘Oh I can’t eat healthy food, so I’m going to eat junk food’, there’s an in-between.”

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