Essential health advice for MWSU students | Lifestyles

Navigating the demands of higher education, college students often find it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with many unaware of the essentials for staying healthy. Finding nutritional options and staying active can be particularly tough for students in college.

One common nutritional challenge students face is not knowing what to eat, as they are used to home-cooked meals with nutritious foods provided for them. Now on meal plans, they are left unaware of what they should be consuming. 

“A lot of these college kids come with their parents either cooking for them or buying them nutritious meals, and they get here and they’re on a meal plan,” Sports and Performance Coach Rachel Pike said. 

Despite the availability of unhealthy items like pizza, burgers, fries, cake and more provided at the school, students can still make healthy choices. 

“They have that sandwich area, fresh produce sections, and you really just want to make sure that you’re building a very colorful and diverse plate,” Pike said.

At Missouri Western, students can build a sandwich in the cafeteria or at Subway, allowing them to add protein rich meat and colorful vegetables. 

Zach Fears, the director of sports performance, mentions that Chick-fil-A offers healthy options such as salads, fruit cups, yogurt, wraps and grilled nuggets.

“They have grilled nuggets that are actually really calorie friendly,” Fears said.

Not knowing what foods students should consume and how many calories they need per day could impact their weight and health. 

“Understanding when you need things, why you should eat the thing, that’s the biggest thing,” Fears said. “It’s really hard to get in shape if you have no idea how many calories and what type of calories you’re putting in.”

If students are wondering what foods to consume and how many calories they should eat, there are many food calculators available on the internet that can help them figure it out. 

The gym may not be for everyone, but getting their bodies moving can significantly impact their health. Missouri Western offers many clubs and free facilities for students.

Emily Ludwig, the senior director of recreation services at Missouri Western and a holder of a Masters of Applied Science in Sport & Fitness Management, believes that getting involved or finding activities that interest students can be a great way to incorporate exercise into their routine. 

“We’re fortunate to have many options on our campus for students to be active and improve their health,” Ludwig said. “Whether it’s joining a group for a walk, playing disc golf, using the fitness center or utilizing the pool, all at no cost. Getting involved is key.”

For students wanting to start at the gym but unsure where to begin, trying bodyweight exercises is a good starting point. 

“Working on postural or bodyweight exercises is always a great way to learn about your body,” Pike said.

Ensuring adequate hydration and sleep is another crucial aspect of students staying healthy, especially for athletes.

“Proper hydration can prevent a significant number of injuries, particularly muscle related ones,” Fears said. “Sufficient sleep reduces the risk of injuries as the body recovers better. When everything is recovering effectively, injuries decrease.”

As many students are still covered by their parents’ insurance, Ludwig recommends taking advantage of preventive screenings.

“College students often overlook these screenings, but as adults, forming the habit of getting them done while they’re free and while you’re young can have a positive impact on your long term health,” Ludwig said.

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