Healthy Herd| Summer: Not Sweater Weather

The end of the semester means the start of summer. For those of you who hate it when people count down: there are twelve school days left in the semester. Classes are winding down, and pretty soon we are going to have so much free time we won’t know what we should do with it.

Or more like we will have a lot of time to work with no excuse not to.

As the weather gets warmer, I hope you all feel motivated to shake off the winter dust and start to become more active.

By more active I mean moving our bodies and exercising, not going out more or going to a friend’s house for beer. No, I’m talking about those hibernation layers we have to work off.

Between classes, social life, work and whatever else adds to our busy lives, many of us struggle to think of our health. In fact, the college age group has the least health care visits compared to adolescents, middle-aged adults and seniors.

For those of us who are in our 20s we may be especially oblivious to how vital this time in our life is for our health. In college it is likely that we aren’t thinking about our health or preparing our bodies for the future. Even though we really should be.

At the ripe age of 20, our bodies are done growing. Though there is the occasional boy who has a growth spurt after high school, the rest of us have reached our adult height. By the age of 30 we have stopped the accumulation of bone density and our peak muscle strength is between the ages 25-30.

So can anyone explain to me why this fact isn’t common knowledge or ingrained in our general health education? We should be taking advantage of this time. You may not have the body you had in high school, but it still has the potential to do great things. Ever wonder why they call it the “prime” of our lives?

Between 20 and 64 is the time in which diet, exercise, body weight and unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking will have the most effect on our later years.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t slip up every once in a while or enjoy life because we all know it’s too short to do that. All I’m saying is that if you know in the back of your head that the way you’re living wouldn’t be able to be maintained later in life or you know that it could have detrimental effects.

It’s better to change earlier rather than later.

Good nutrition and regular exercise help reduce risk of onset or severity of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and liver disease.

Also, it prevents obesity, a rising epidemic of its own. Some people may make it look easy, but for others it’s not as simple as “just eating healthy” or exercising. For some a little more effort has to go into it, and that’s OK. That’s why we have health professionals like registered dietitians to help give us guidance or an added push.

On a real note, you have to be the one who decides you want to live healthy. No one can make that choice for you. You won’t make the change until you have that defining moment that brings clarity to your life and makes you want to change your ways. “Being healthy” is a way of living, not an occasional choice.

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