Staying fit for summer: How to be active and eat healthy from home – OSU – The Lantern

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Some students may struggle to establish a high-quality and sustainable fitness routine over the summer, but members of the Ohio State community who are knowledgeable about kinesiology can offer some helpful tips. Credit: Samantha Gades | Unsplash

Some students may struggle to establish a high-quality and sustainable fitness routine over the summer, but members of the Ohio State community who are knowledgeable about kinesiology can offer some helpful tips. Credit: Samantha Gades | Unsplash

The shift from having readily available, nutritious meals, multiple workout facilities and countless on-campus fitness activities to traveling home for summer break can cause many students to resort to unhealthy habits, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  

The nice weather and expanded free time most students experience in summer create several opportunities to stay physically active, said Carmen Swain, a clinical associate professor of kinesiology in the Department of Human Sciences and the director of the Health and Exercise Science program at Ohio State. 

Swain said the problem lies in behavior change, which is something humans typically struggle with when exposed to a new environment — a situation most college students can relate to. 

“One of the things that you bring up with summer is that it’s often a great time for opportunity for students,” Swain said. “There’s often new jobs or new internships, or maybe study abroad or a new environment — maybe not new so much, but new to them for what they’ve been experiencing.” 

To effectively handle behavior change, Swain said one can alter their brain over time by solely focusing on one objective and setting small goals along the way to help them reach and master it. 

“If we can think about behavior change that way, that we need to work on changing our brain, I think that helps people to really be like, ‘Aha, it’s not like, just all of a sudden, one day I get good at exercising or eating a proper diet,’” Swain said. 

For the summer specifically, Swain said a small goal could be simply getting outside more often. 

Research suggests exercising outside leads people to believe they are exerting less energy when in reality, they are completing higher-intensity workouts in comparison to exercising indoors, Swain said.  

“Within the first five minutes, there’s this really powerful stress and anxiety reduction as a result of participating in exercise outside, and you don’t get that same response exercising inside,” Swain said. 

Jean-Pierre Khouzam, a first-year graduate student in kinesiology and former member of the Ohio State men’s swim and dive team, is just one example of a student who exemplifies the importance of staying active and eating healthy throughout summer break. 

Though Khouzam’s summer breaks have been shorter than the average college student’s — primarily due to being a student-athlete — he said he is a big proponent of this approach to summer-time fitness, especially when one does not have immediate access to a gym facility. 

“You don’t have to go on a run, per se. You can just play basketball or even Spikeball, simple things,” Khouzam said. “Just get the heart rate up, get your body moving. Movement is medicine.” 

Khouzam said he recommends doing physical activities with friends, as doing so adds a social aspect and a source of motivation to fitness. 

“You text a friend the day before like, ‘Hey, you want to go play basketball? You want to go on a run?’ Anything like that,” Khouzam said. “And then you’re held accountable by your friend.” 

As for the dietary component, Swain said crafting a predetermined diet plan that excludes a lot of processed foods is a great way to maintain a healthy diet. She said making home-cooked meals and purchasing healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables can also serve as a better substitute for processed foods. 

“If you know that the food that’s going to be available to you is not something that you want to consume, you need to make a plan, right?” Swain said. “You need to take responsibility for your own diet and say, ‘OK, that’s going to be there, but this is the diet I’ve been eating at school.’” 

Khouzam said he is a big believer in implementing organic foods into his diet, and he also focuses on consuming high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates. Still, he realizes some people do not have the time nor money to prepare and purchase healthy meals, but that many online resources provide quick, easy and affordable ways to do so. 

One Ohio State resource students can access to create personalized, healthy diets is the Student Wellness Center’s nutrition coaching, which is free to all currently enrolled Ohio State students. 

In addition, Swain said she and Julie Kennel, a clinical associate professor of human nutrition in the Department of Human Sciences, will be instructing a new general education course in autumn 2024 called “Food is Function, Movement is Medicine (KNHES 2995).” 

Swain said the course will be worth four credit hours, fulfill the Health and Well-Being general education theme and “tackle health and well-being from an exercise and a nutrition standpoint.” 

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