Keeping Healthy During the Semester

Yvonne Zimmerman

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It is that time of year again when college students’ summer tans start fading under their jeans, and their heaviest workout weights become their textbooks.

But just because the body doesn’t need to be beach ready, doesn’t mean fitness and health have to fall to the wayside. There are still ways to squeeze exercise and nutrition into the hectic schedules of class, work and daily assignments.

Helen Chaj, public relations major, exercises at the Student Recreation Center three times a week for one to two hours to stay fit.

“I keep coming because I think it’s good for you — mentally,” she said.

Staying active is a routine for Chaj, and her favorite activities at the SRC are the cycling classes offered, which she attends when she isn’t running on the upstairs track or using the machines.

Junior kinesiology major Andrew Vacaflor exercises at the gym two to three times a week and credits his motivation to the extra energy it gives him throughout the day, as well as the feeling of accomplishment.

But Vacaflor does realize that the ideal gym schedule doesn’t work for everyone, and he enjoys creating his own workout aside from the offered classes.

“I’m not constrained to however long the classes are,” he said.

If a student is creative, he or she can fit a little exercise into the day, no matter the setting. If students live in the dorms, Vacaflor said, they could use a chair or bench for simple triceps workouts to practice controlling body weight.

“You can make time for yourself. … You don’t need crazy equipment to exercise,” he said.

Bernardo Guzman, a personal trainer at the SRC, said that, even if students are not physically active, body weight exercises like planks and squats are ideal. Once those get easy, resistance bands and weights can be used; coming to the gym would be the next step.

“The biggest excuse is that we are busy. … [Students] need a time during the day to devote to themselves,” Guzman said.

Simple tips for getting exercise include taking the stairs or parking a little farther from classes for a longer walk.

Personal trainers at the SRC can be beneficial to students and help incorporate what students enjoy into exercise routines, such as rock wall climbing, swimming and dance.

Guzman said all students can come in for a free initial fitness evaluation, and the trainers then “find what they like to do and just go from that,” introducing them to other workout routines.

Annette Besnilian, executive director at the Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science Nutrition and Dietetics at CSUN, suggests exploring the resources at the Magaram Center, including body fat assessments, diet and recipe analyses and nutrition counseling. She suggests such dietary guidelines as eating whole grains, lean meats and fat-free or low-fat dairy products

Many students and fitness experts agree that a healthy diet should accompany body strengthening. Professor Soniya Perl, a registered dietitian and lecturer in food service and production in the Family and Consumer Sciences department, said that healthy eating can be practiced at many dining facilities.

“Any place you go has options; it’s just making the right choices,” she said. Some options include buying a parfait rather than a doughnut at Freudian Sip or a salad at on-campus restaurants.

She also suggests not shopping on an empty stomach and to choose healthy foods, such as veggie platters and fruit, for snacks between assignments.

Portion control, like sharing meals or desserts with friends, helps one avoid temptations of overeating and is a great way to achieving a healthy body, she said.