Aim to reach 150 minutes each week

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As the days get shorter and colder, staying physically healthy becomes more of a challenge. To ward off the freshmen fifteen, or the beer gut, you must be diligent. However, staying physically healthy does not have to be as stressful as most students believe.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. While this is less than three hours, homework, social life and the infamous Cullowhee weather can make this number seem unreachable.

Baldwin Sanders, Assistant Professor of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program, believes 150 minutes per week can be easily attainable with the right attitude.

Sanders said, “That is just 30 minutes, five days a week. And the good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once. You may want to try bursts of 10 minutes.”

30 minutes is far easier to fit into a schedule than 150. 10 minutes is even more so. Now that the number is more manageable, it becomes a matter of what to do. What is “moderate physical activity?”

Sanders said, “Moderate activity means that you are able to talk during the activity, but you can tell your heart rate is up.”

The Department of HHS is not asking anyone to run marathons or bench press 300 pounds, they are looking for sustained increased heart rate. To help students realize what physical activities they can participate in, Sanders has prepared a list of ideas.

Sanders said, “Avoid saying ‘I don’t have enough time.’"

To prove that there are plenty of ways to reach that suggested 150 minutes, some of which you may already be doing, Sanders provided the following list of possible activities:

• Take your dog on a brief walk before you shower.
• Take a ten-minute walk during your lunch break or after dinner.
• Walk to class, and get your heart rate up. I do not mean a saunter or meander.
• Hike around campus. There are beautiful trails behind the Health and Human Sciences Building.
• Ride your bike, but wear a helmet.
• Lift weights or use resistance bands during commercials. Keep them ready under the couch.
• Take one of the free yoga classes on campus.
• Turn on the music and dance!
• Go swimming or do water aerobics. Splash around!
• Get a hula-hoop and hoop it up.
• Wash and wax your car.
• Stretch at breaks from time spent on the computer.

This list does not include every way to get physically active. There are the more organized ways, such as participating in intramural sports, going on adventures with Base Camp Cullowhee and playing basketball in the Campus Recreation Center. That is the beauty of moderate physical activity: it can be almost anything. Get creative!

What you do is unimportant. What matters is the way you approach physical activity. Do not look at two and a half hours as one chunk of time that needs to be filled with rigorous activity. Break it down into daily morsels, set reasonable goals and succeed.

“Try to find dead zones in your day where you can speed up your heart rate and metabolism,” said Sanders.

Do not get down on yourself if you think you are not reaching 30 minutes per day. Remember, Western Carolina is a hilly campus. Simply by skipping out on the Cat Tran and walking to class, you are more than likely approaching 30 minutes. If you live above the fourth floor of your residence hall, taking the stairs instead of the elevator chips away at that 30 minutes.

The key is attitude. Taking time out of your day to stay healthy and believing that it is worthwhile. Increased physical activity relieves stress and leads to better sleep. Getting active for just 30 minutes a day can improve your college experience, and life, drastically.

For hours of availability for the CRC, as well as the upcoming schedule of Base Camp Cullowhee events, visit www.wcu.edu/experience