BYU health and nutrition professionals offer students advice on how to manage stress, eat healthier and exercise effectively to stay in top shape this semester.
Stress is often viewed negatively as an inhibitor to productivity, but Bruce Bailey, an exercise science professor, offers a different opinion.
“Stress isn’t bad; it’s good in general,” Bailey said. “It helps you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.”
Bailey explains that stress is like a muscle. Just as muscles build with use, the capacity to deal with stress also builds, as long as there are periods of relaxation.
Ultimately, the way stress is managed is what makes it good or bad.
“It depends on how the person sees the situation,” Bailey said. “Do they see it as a challenge, do they see it as an opportunity or do they see it as a threat in some way?”
Bailey also said that one of the best ways to manage stress is to get enough sleep as well as to have a consistent bedtime and wake time.
Lora Brown, a nutrition specialist, says that in her field consistency is also key to having a healthy body. She explained that eating regular meals is very important.
“Most people who eat regular meals seem to do better metabolically; the body seems to do well with predictable circumstances,” Brown said.
The reasoning behind this, according to Brown, is that when people prepare and eat meals it usually involves a variety of foods and is more satisfying. Snacking all day, or as Brown calls it, haphazard eating, usually involves foods that look good, taste good, and are quick to prepare, which usually are not the healthiest.
Eating healthier does not require the abandonment of sugary “no-no” foods. Brown states that in moderation all foods can be part of a healthful diet.
Exercise follows similar recommendations, as consistency is very important. Philip Allsen, an exercise physiology professor, explains how exercise can affect the brain.
“We know proper exercise can have an effect upon the nervous system, and that type of exercise is called aerobic exercise,” Allsen said. “So if I want to increase the capability of my brain, I’ll engage in a proper aerobic exercise program.”
Aerobic exercise includes things like jogging, biking and walking. BYU offers many activity classes that provide an aerobic workout. Camilla Nelson, the instructor of a dance aerobics class, explains that her class is a fun way to get a good workout.
“It’s a fun outlet because we’re with other students,” Nelson said. “You won’t even think you are getting a great workout because it is so fun.”
Consistency is the tie among these three areas of healthy habits. Consistent sleep times, meal times and exercise can help students be more effective.