Become a Healthier Person…It’s Easier than You Think! (Yes, even at Colgate)

You are young. You are energetic. You are in the habit of drinking three or four times a week. Face it … there is no better time in your life to start getting into shape. Each year the rate of obese children, teenagers, and adults rises. Being overweight is not only an issue of physical appearance, but also a threat to your internal health, including your heart, blood, lungs, muscles, bones, and just about every part of the human body. Young, smart college students like you can change this epidemic by obtaining healthy habits of diet and exercise when you are young, and passing those good habits on to the next generation. Now, I’m not a goddess who is perfectly in shape and in control. There is a lot I need to consider when thinking about my health. My father and his father both have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They also both gain most of their fat around their middle areas of the body (otherwise known as a gut, love handles, and beer belly), which, as I was told by Discovery Health Channel, is the unhealthiest place to gain weight because the fat is so close to the liver.After a satisfying Thanksgiving dinner a few months ago, I decided that I needed to change my eating habits to be healthier. At the dinner table, I was told how much I resemble my dad, which makes me both proud and disappointed. I love that I inherited his cute nose, and understanding, sympathetic attitude, but I’m really annoyed that I inherited his slow metabolism and tendency to gain weight easily. My mother, on the other hand, is a petite woman, who wears a smaller size than I do, despite the age difference. Even though I’ve always felt a lot of stress and insecurity about my physical appearance, I am not changing my lifestyle solely for the purpose of looking hotter. What is most important to me is that I change my habits now, so that I don’t end up with eventually serious problems like my father and grandfather have.Okay, now that I’ve briefed you on a short history of my life and my issues, I want to explain a few things to you. I read all the time about health, and different ways to make yourself feel and look healthier. I am genuinely interested in how the body works, and why certain strategies work better than others for different people. Because of this, I want to share with you the information that I’ve read up on, so you can start to make healthier changes to your life, and share with me and others what works for you. I don’t want to be a preacher, so please think about it as “us in this process together,” helping to motivate each other with tips and reminders.Here is what I would like to share with you today: It is proven that working out using both weight training and cardiovascular exercise is the most effective for people trying to speed up their metabolism. This means, you will burn calories faster, even when you are just sitting around. Doesn’t that sound absolutely wonderful! Here’s a little science to help you understand, and it’s important to know because it’s a pretty fundamental concept behind the benefits of exercising. It is proven that muscle burns calories faster than fat does. And, weight training is the best way to build more lean muscle. In turn, you will shed weight and firm up areas such as your arms, abdominals, back, and legs … which will definitely jump-start a new health plan for people who are just starting out. So, how can you do more weight training at Colgate, without having to stand next to all the built, chiseled boys in front of a wall-sized mirror in the gym? Well, you can buy a pair of your own free weights: you can even get weights that can strap around your ankle for leg exercises. Remember to keep the movement smooth and controlled, doing 2-3 sets of about 8-12 repetitions each. Another, more convenient way to resistance train (which, pretty much, has the same effects as using free weights) is to use large rubber bands designed especially for exercise use. I really like the kind with handles on either side, which you can hold or slip around your foot to do a variety of exercises. These bands are only about $13 each, and are sold at stores like Wal-mart and Target. The bands also come in different levels of strength, so you can adjust when you get stronger. They are also great because they are small, light (the stretchy-ness is the resistance part) and allow for a smoother and larger range of motion than free weights. Doing 15 or 20 minutes of good resistance exercise with these training tools can help you burn 20-150 more calories a day…not just when you are exercising, but also when you are just relaxing. Resistance training, as described by can “help maintain lean body mass (important for individuals attempting weight loss), decrease the risk of osteoporosis, develop coordination and balance, and prevent injuries resulting from weak muscles.” You should only do weight training every other day, though, to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover, a process that is important for the development of new muscle tissue. Many people I talk to believe that if they run on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day, they will be much healthier. However, I have evidence that they are partially mistaken. In fact, though the treadmill does help burn many calories quickly, it can be damaging to the knees and feet. If you enjoy running for exercise, be sure to always wear runner’s style shoes (dry ones at Colgate, of course) and always stretch before and after the run (as you should do before any type of exercise). Also, be sure to switch your activities every once in a while: this will help work muscles that aren’t worked as much for other exercises. For instance, biking works the thigh muscles more than running does. However, running works the calf and abdominal muscles better than biking. Constantly varying your type of exercise will boost your metabolism, and is described as an effective way to get out of a rut or plateau.It is important to keep up with resistance and weight training. However, don’t forget about cardiovascular, aerobic exercise, which you should do some form of almost every day. Aerobic exercise increases heart rate and respiration rate, because it makes you “out of breath.” What is really going on: your heart is getting stronger from pumping so much blood to your muscles, which provides them with oxygen. (This also happens in resistance training, so make sure you breathe through exercises, instead of holding your breath.) Cardiovascular and resistance training workouts are said to increase stamina, improve the immune system, and improve mental health, as well as increase metabolism, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve the average life span ( Starting a regular exercise routine while at school helps keep you in shape and can help give you a new start to a healthy lifestyle. So, you must be asking yourselves, “how the hell am I gonna do that at Colgate?! I have four classes, I’m in six clubs, and I like to sleep 12 and a half hours a day!” Well, prepare to be pleasantly surprised, because there are a lot of things you can do at school that can motivate you to get in your exercise each day:

Here are five ways you can get yourself to exercise more at Colgate:

5. Do weight training in your room, if you have the proper supplies, at times when you have just a few extra minutes. There is a commercial on and it will be a few minutes until the OC is back. Grab your free weights and do some biceps exercises. Oh crap! The network is down and I can’t check away messages anymore! Well…why don’t you get on the floor and do 40 crunches. 4. Walk a lot. Bear the cold once in a while! In fact, your body will burn quite a few calories just trying to warm itself up. You will also get in some of that cardiovascular exercise, which will energize you. Don’t take the cruiser up from Parkside…I mean, work off that turkey and cheese sub! Walking up the hill is a great way to increase your heart rate. And, think of it this way, you will not run out of motivation before making it up to your room, because you are so FREAKIN’ cold, and you must keep walking and walking and walking…and getting healthier at the same time!3. Play in the snow. You know you all want to put on a ski suit and run around in the snow like little kids. Hey, since you already have the ski suit on, why don’t you go skiing! But, if you’re like me and you’re not into the skiing, you can go sledding. It’s fun and also good exercise. After sliding down a hill on your ass, (or on a Frank tray, or even a real sled) you have to get up and walk back up to go again. Also, walking in the snow (as walking on sand…) gives you a little more resistance…you have to pick your feet up higher to walk in snow, and this will increase all the good effects of just walking normally. Tada!2. Join a club or intramural sport. Playing sports is a great way to exercise, as I’m sure you all know, because it allows you to exercise with teammates, make friends, motivate each other, and play a good game at the same time! Seriously, working out for an hour playing soccer or lacrosse is much more entertaining and goes by much more quickly than running on a treadmill and reading the subtitles on the TV screens. If you’re not into competitive sports, sign up for a gym class (they are required anyway). This gives you the same motivation because you are working out with a group of people, and seems to pass time more quickly than just plain old exercising. 1. The best way you can keep yourself physically active at Colgate is to have a buddy. I know, it sounds a little clich?e and immature, however, it is mentioned in just about every fitness article I’ve ever read. Going to the gym, playing on a team, walking up the hill, and improving your self image is much easier and more enjoyable when you have a friend who is going through the same experiences with you. Share experiences, ideas, tips, etc. with each other, and be sure to compliment each other on efforts and accomplishments. It is more effective than you may think.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and motivating. Be sure to check the commentary section for more articles on how to improve your health and fitness level, and I’d love for you to e-mail me with questions (I will research the answers…I’m not a know-it-all) and suggestions of what you would like to hear more information about. For the meantime, get off your butt and start doing something good for yourself!

Be sure to visit the websites listed below: (click on the equipment you are using for instructions and pictures of exercises) (this is a great site to learn about how to improve your health…from eating to exercise to medical information) Keep checking the Maroon-News Commentary section for more health tips and information. The next article will explain good and bad fats, and carbs, and how to choose foods at Colgate that can keep you on a nutritious track. This will be the best way to enhance the results of exercising. Please email me (akozak) and give me feedback, questions, and suggestions! I would be so excited!