The popular term, “Freshman 15,” was coined as a result of unhealthy eating habits from incoming college students nationwide––and the statistics prove why.
In 2010, researchers at Northwestern University conducted a study revealing that 60 percent of college students don’t get the “recommended levels of weekly physical activity,” as stated in a U.S. News Wellness report. The report also revealed that 95 percent of students don’t eat the “recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
According to incoming undergraduate students, there are many factors that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle when they enter college. For some, it’s a lack of food options on campus. For others, it’s not having time to cook a healthy meal or exercise due to hectic academic schedules.
Senior applied exercise science major Martel Norwood explained that as he grew up, eating healthy was a lifestyle. His parents set an example for him by only purchasing organic whole foods and eating home-cooked meals.
Norwood stated that he had unhealthy eating habits during his freshman year because of the limited food options on campus.
“Everything I had grown up eating went out the window,” Norwood said. “I was eating a lot of fast food, and I noticed I was getting out of shape.”
After freshman year, Norwood decided to cook his own meals instead of having a meal plan.
“It’s all about choices,” Norwood said. “For incoming freshmen, I would advise that they…choose the healthier option. Instead of getting that burger or pizza, go with the grilled chicken wrap or whatever the healthier choice is.”
According to Norwood, exercising on a regular basis has even helped improve his sleeping habits.
“I work out four times a week, regardless of my schedule,” Norwood said. “It also helps with confidence.”
A 2013 study conducted by Purdue University found that students who exercise at their campus gyms are more likely to succeed in their classes.
According to junior political science major Jackie Nuñez health and physical activity are one of the many important aspects that contributes to a student’s overall growth in college.
“Exercise and eating right can improve your attitude toward conquering your busy school week,” Nunez said.
Nunez added that being active can increase self-esteem amid the many social interactions in college. She explained that prioritizing a busy school schedule is the first step to finding time for even 20–30 minutes of exercise per day.
“Eating healthy can do…wonders for your energy levels in your workouts and attention in class,” Nunez said. “Getting sleep and drinking water is so important.”
For students who don’t know what workouts they should start with, Nunez added that Pinterest and the free app Hot Five are a good place to get inspired.
Junior journalism major Ashley Lawrence, also known as “Miss Century City USA 2017,” explained the importance of her workout routine amidst being a pageant contestant and managing her classes.
Due to her rigorous school schedule, Lawrence tries to take advantage of the times she is not in class and shared her favorite tips for fellow students with difficult academic schedules.
“One thing [I did] was download the Nike Training Club app, and [I would] just select a 15-minute program and just do it really quickly in my room,” Lawrence said. “Or, I would run around my block or do sit-ups and squats during commercials when I [watched] TV or just [needed] a study break.”
Working out not only has positive affects for mental clarity, but it also improves physical appearance.
Martel Norwood’s brother, senior communication studies major Tyler Norwood, weighed in on his reason for staying active.
“I work out to look good,” Tyler Norwood said. “I also work out because it is overall beneficial, and I want to have a long life.”
Tyler Norwood explained that he works out whenever he is feeling tense or angry, because it helps improve his mood and relieves stress.
He also advised that students trying to find time to work out should wake up 30 minutes earlier.
However, despite students’ best efforts, there might still be times when it’s impossible to squeeze in exercise.
“Even if you don’t have time to work out, eating right and walking instead of taking the trolley [is beneficial],” Tyler Norwood said.
Despite busy schedules and time constraints, finding time to exercise and eat healthy can improve a student’s quality of life. For those who can’t afford a gym membership or don’t have a car on campus, The Fitness Center and Weight Room are located on West Campus behind the Felix Event Center. It is open for all APU students free of charge Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-12 a.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday 1-7 p.m.