Art by Caitlin Roark
The Freshman 15 is a term referring to the belief among college students that the experiences of a first-year college student lead to a weight gain of about 15 pounds. Much of this sudden weight gain is sometimes attributed to the unfamiliar sources of stress incoming college students are faced with, including course work and moving out from home.
Entering new social environments that promote unhealthy eating and drinking habits are often blamed for the Freshman 15. However, studies suggest that college students are simply less active compared to their time in high school.
Students should not neglect their health and well-being throughout any time in their college careers. As important as classes, family and friends are, failing to adopt a healthy lifestyle will only jeopardize one’s potential ability to fully enjoy and utilize these experiences. Pepperdine shares this concern over the health of their students and encourages them to take advantage of the many opportunities for pursuing fitness on campus.
In high school, many students are required, for class credit, to take part in physical activity at some level. For many in college, this requirement is no longer in place. With this lack of obligation, students tend to neglect the need for exercise. Unfortunately, without exercise, students are missing out on a crucial opportunity to detach from the very same stress inhibitors they claim to be the source of their inactivity.
Exercising is important for long-term mental and physical health. “Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators,” according to an article published in 2013 by Harvard Health Publishing. While it is understandable that students are overwhelmed by the stress of college and hence incorporate little to no time for exercise, it is important to realize that exercising is vital to the reduction of that stress.
If improved health alone isn’t incentive enough to exercise more, collected data seems to support the theory that active students perform better in their college courses. “Students [at Purdue] who used the gym at least seven times a month had an average GPA of 3.06,” Amy Patterson Neubert wrote in an article published by Purdue University on April 15, 2013. Those who attended the gym more often were often correlated with a higher overall GPA.
Pepperdine University has a variety of options for students seeking to become active on campus, both in Malibu and abroad. Students can engage in a multitude of recreational activities that can appease people with different approaches to a fitness lifestyle. For those abroad, affordable gym membership options are available within walking distances, such as the Ethos gym located in the backyard of Pepperdine’s London house. Pepperdine staff are great at notifying students of these fitness options and recreational facilities often offer student and short-term visitor discounts.
Students should prioritize their well-being and, in turn, ensure their long-term success. High-stress levels lead to a multitude of health issues down the line, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and lead many to “stress-eat,” contributing to weight gain and more potential health risks. It is important to save time throughout the day to take care of yourself. Even a short walk around the beautiful Malibu campus a few times a week will contribute in momentous ways towards a healthier lifestyle.
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