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Taking a few steps today can lead to a healthier tomorrow

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Isaiah Dwyer, Staff Writer

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Ask any college student and they’ll most likely tell you that they are extremely busy individuals. A lot of students work and go to school at the same time, a lot of students are parents, and every student has obligations that go beyond the classroom. Students feeling stretched thin can find themselves in the not-so-good position of sacrificing their health and wellness for the benefits of the right-now.

Over the past 50 to 75 years, the United States in particular has seen large increases in obesity rates, poor dietary habits, and time on the couch. The CDC and National Center for Health Statistics have collaborated with a couple different government agencies to put together a comprehensive breakdown of current United States dietary and exercise statistics, appropriately called, What We Eat in America.

At a glance, some of the most startling information comes from how many Americans have reported bad eating habits. Almost ¾ of Americans have reported diets low in vegetables and fruits, almost half of all Americans have reported an excess consumption of grains, sugars, and saturated fats. For the first time in American history, we are coming dangerously close to ⅔ of all adults being overweight, and nearly ⅓ of our younger generations are experiencing similar crises.

These statistics are the result of many different environmental factors; we live in the most automated time the world has seen, almost everything is connected to the Internet, and quite frankly, we’re a very time-poor society. However, this doesn’t make diet and exercise complicated or difficult. Being aware of your own health and wellness is an important part of adult life.

One summer, going into my junior year of high school, I stepped on a scale before work and read three very scary numbers: 254 pounds. That was the day I decided to make a change, and that was also the day I learned that diet and exercise didn’t have to be complicated, or even difficult. It took me about two years to weigh less than 200 pounds, and just the other day I stepped on the scale again to see three less-intimidating, much more welcoming, numbers: 187 lbs.

Diet and exercise is the easiest thing in the world when you get down to the fundamentals; it’s basic addition. Calories in vs. calories out. How many nutrients am I taking in versus how many nutrients am I expending. Everybody burns calories at a different rate, but it’s pretty safe to say that people who spend more time on their feet, burn more calories, and therefore, can eat more, and gain less. The human body typically expends about 1000 to 1400 calories just on its own.

Combined with daily recommended exercise/activity times, we find that your everyday healthy adult expends about 2000 calories on a daily basis. If you are looking to make any changes to your weight, this is a good number to start with. For reference, any man who consumes 2500 calories on a daily basis, but only expends 2000, will gain one pound after one week.

Of course diet is only one half of the equation. In a lot of cases it’s exceptionally easier for someone to burn more calories, rather than restrict their diet. Daily recommendations say that every adult should be getting about 60 minutes of exercise, three to five times per week, at minimum.

Even on days we don’t work out, it’s still recommended to try and walk 10,000 steps per day, so trying to find ways to squeeze in activity is important. Taking the stairs, doing an extra lap or two between classes, doing ten pushups during a commercial break, those are all excellent ways to push your daily caloric expenditure upward.

As students of Madison College we have access to the health center, even just walking on the treadmill for a bit after class would have numerous health benefits.

Here’s a very simple bare-bones exercise routine that can be broken up throughout the day, that anybody with little to no exercise experience can complete. This routine lasts three days; day one, one hundred pushups, day two, one hundred squats, and day three, one hundred sit ups. It might not seem like a lot, but at a bare minimum this is going to get your body moving, and keep you young. That extra 15 to 20 minutes of activity could be the difference between gaining and losing those last couple pounds.

Diet and exercise is not hard. Time after time what gets in the way is ourselves. Anybody can make an excuse, but your health and wellness is actually important. The links between poor exercise and diet regimens, with psychological and biological health problems couldn’t be clearer. The most important thing to keep in mind is that any changes we are trying to make, don’t happen at once, and they don’t happen by doing nothing.

If time is your biggest enemy, I challenge you to find a few minutes every couple hours to do some pushups or sit ups. If you’re just starting on the path to living a healthier life, I challenge you to find one or two things you can do today, to make yourself healthier tomorrow.

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Taking a few steps today can lead to a healthier tomorrow