Well and fit for the year; Tips for staying healthy through the school year

By on August 16, 2013
With many new apps, keeping up with health plans and
caloric intakes has never been easier. (Photo provided by
MCT Campus)

Adults often hear what they should be doing to improve their health. But many of these known wellness behaviors are important for college students, too, and two UAB experts say school success depends on making the right choices.
Health habits, such as eating and sleep patterns, are linked to academic success, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Your brain can’t work if you’re not consuming enough calories, and in general that’s not a problem,” explained Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. “But when kids go to school without eating breakfast, their cognitive function can be affected.”

Casazza suggests students start the day with fruits, proteins and whole grains. Avoid sugary cereals because they cause a sugar high, then a crash.

“A balanced breakfast will fuel the body for a long period and help sustain their attention level through lunch, when they need to eat well again,” Casazza said. “This will hold them until dinner, and they won’t snack ravenously after school.”

If students are still pressed to eat something before dinner, it is best to eat yogurt, fruits and veggies with water..

Many apps have calorie counters and health plans for those students trying to refrain from the “freshman fifteen.”
Along with eating correctly and working out, sleep needs to be the priority.

Many students pull all-nighters and hype themselves on coffee before exams and projects.

“Lack of sleep can lead to problems with attention and memory in the classroom, affect impulse control and mood regulation lead to anxiety and even depression,” said Kristin Avis, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.

“Often parents think one night of sleep loss won’t matter, but that’s all it takes to affect them the next day,” Avis explained. “If they are chronically deprived, it can snowball and make matters worse.”

Catching up on lost sleep on the weekend can also make matters worse.

“If students sleep in Saturday, they have a hard time going to bed Saturday night; so they sleep in Sunday and have a hard time going to bed Sunday night,” Avis said. “Monday morning they are tired, and it’s hard to wake up for school. They struggle to get back on a good sleep schedule.”

Avis recommends a consistent bedtime seven days a week.

“It keeps their clock set so they can go to bed at a certain time, sleep well through night and wake up well rested the next morning,” Avis said.

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  • Steven

    I’m a member at the new Life Time Fitness, and it has really helped me stay active during my classes. I enjoy the activities on campus, but Life Time has helped me lose 20 lbs so far… I plan on staying fit for the year thanks to the new Life Time Fitness.

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