Foundations of Health and Wellness
Positive lifestyle changes can improve your physical and emotional health, improve your academic performance and prolong your life. Proper NUTRITION, adequate PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, quality SLEEP and STRESS management are the foundations to good health.
A well-balanced diet is crucial for overall health and performance. A healthy diet includes the following:
- Fruits and Vegetables: Eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables daily.
- Moderation: Make sure your calorie intake is balanced by your calorie expenditures. Eating more calories than you burn leads to weight gain; be mindful of portion control and eat high calorie foods (snacks, sodas, fast food) only in moderation.
- Focus on Mediterranean: Let the Mediterranean Food Guide Pyramid be your guide. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes daily, poultry and fish weekly and other types of meat monthly.
- Beverages: Full calorie beverages like soda, sports and energy drinks and sweet tea add needless calories (and pounds). Choose water, diet drinks or unsweet tea.
- Breakfast: It really is the most important meal of the day! Those who eat breakfast daily are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and perform better academically.
Adequate exercise reduces stress, improves health, reduces your risk of chronic diseases and improves brain function.
- At least 30: Get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days per week. Moderate intensity can be brisk walking, group fitness classes, doubles tennis, bike riding or similar activities.
- Strength two: Strength training is also important. Do exercises that work all major muscles groups at least two times per week.
- More is better: Exercise is one activity where the more you do, the more benefits you see. Increase your intensity, your duration and you weekly sessions for even greater improvements.
As young adults, sleep is vital for brain development, academic performance and a healthy emotional state.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep daily.
- Avoid all nighters; research shows that sleep is an important part of retaining information. Students who study all night before an exam do worse than those who don’t.
- Try to maintain regular sleep patterns. This involves going to bed and waking at the same time daily, even on weekends.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid caffeine or stimulants or exercise 4 hours before bed.
While acute stress cannot be avoided, chronic stress has severe negative health consequences including depression, anxiety, physical symptoms and sleep disturbances.
- Identify stressors in your life and try to develop strategies to make them less stressful.
- Use relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation and exercise to reduce your level of stress.
- Develop a time management and organization system to help keep you on-task.
- If you feel a chronic sense of stress or feelings of depression seek professional assistance like CAPS.