Foreword from Katie, Student Health Promotions Coordinator
Welcome to the WIT Peer Educators’ brand new Sex Ed Series here on our blog. Each Wednesday this semester the WIT Peers will be sharing a post filled with great information about sexual health. WIT Peers are trained GVSU students that work for Recreation & Wellness. They will be choosing and researching topics that they think are important for others to know more about.
While our WIT Peers are passionate about sexual health, the information they share should not be considered expert advice. The blog posts are meant to be educational and spark interest in learning more. Please reach out to appropriate health care professionals if you want sexual health advice.
Finally, we know that talking about sexual health is often avoided in our society and that we may be sharing information that is new or “taboo” throughout this series. Please know that our approach, as we work to promote sexual health on campus, is to engage in evidence-informed, sex-positive, inclusive and empowering messages to all students so that we can reduce shame and stigma while supporting students in making the best decisions for themselves. To that end, we will be posting about a variety of topics, identities, and sexual activities to give students the tools they need to make informed decisions.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns throughout the semester, please reach out to me (Katie Jourdan), Student Health Promotions Coordinator with RecWell directly.
Why a Sex Ed Series?
According to 2018 National College Health Assessment data, 74% of GVSU students are sexually active, which is slightly higher than the national average of 67.5%. Whether we are sexually active or not, it's important to educate ourselves about sexual health. Sex happens to be a natural part of our life as humans (though we know that not everyone wants nor chooses to engage in sexual activity!) However, it turns out that most young people in the U.S. do not receive comprehensive sexual education before they get to college. Receiving comprehensive sexual education - which includes information about anatomy, sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual dysfunction, contraceptives, sexuality, communication and consent - promotes positive sexual behaviors. Because we want GVSU students to be able to make the best decisions for themselves, and we know not everyone received information prior to arriving at GVSU, we are hoping that our Sex Ed Series helps give you some basic information and encourages you to seek more information about sexual health this semester.
So, what is Sexual Health?
First, we will say that sex, sexuality and sexual health are different. Sex is often used as a broad term to talk about sexual activity. And, sexuality is way more than sexual orientation or sexual activity; it “is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.” Sexuality also includes being healthy sexually.
According to the World Health Organization, “sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, and not merely an absence of diseases or dysfunction.” Having a positive and respectful approach to one’s sexuality and sexual relationships, along with the possibility to have pleasurable and safer sexual experience without discrimination, which is free of coercion and violence, is the foundation of sexual health. Sexual health is a big part of our life, which significantly affects the other areas of our well-being. Having good sexual health means you are well informed, careful, respectful to yourself and others, and enjoying yourself sexually in a way you are comfortable with.
Sexual Health is Health: Talk to your Health Care Provider
Sexual health is as important as any other type of health (physical, mental, emotional, etc.). It is important to talk to your health care provider if engaging in any sexual activities; you can/should talk about pleasure and discomfort during sexual activities, consent, STIs, contraceptives, menstrual hygiene and more.
Let’s take STIs (sexually transmitted infections) for example - every year approximately 19 million cases of STIs are diagnosed in the United States, and half of them are amongst people belonging to 15-24 years of age. Untreated STIs can lead to long term health complications, increasing risk factors of certain types of cancers, reproductive health complications and infertility. However, these health complications are preventable and educating ourselves about sexual health and engaging in safer sex practices is an important way to do that. Regular STI screening can help us to find an infection at an early stage and receive treatment.
It is observed that sexual health is not discussed much and we can do that... by simply starting a conversation about it; Henry Ford Health System has some good tips for talking to your health care provider about sexual health.
As Katie said, we will have a new post every Wednesday about different topics about sexual health, so stay tuned! Coming up in the next few weeks: shame and stigma, hookup culture, and condoms.
By: Sonal Subhash Mandale, WIT Peer Educator
Foreword by: Katie Jourdan, MPH, CHES, Student Health Promotions Coordinator
Work, Work, Work
Whether it’s a job, college classes, volunteering, or a combination of all three, it’s no secret that Americans love to work. In fact, we have become so invested and focused on the hustle and grind of everyday life that many of us hardly get a break. Taking breaks is even frowned upon in many workplaces and academic settings. You’ve probably heard the saying “the grind never stops” but this concept doesn’t only apply to those in the workforce; sometimes, it can be even harder for us as students to rest. There is always something we should be doing. Even if we finish all of our assignments, we are told that we should at least still be studying. While many of us remain focused on the grind and a constant hustle, Americans tend to suffer from extremely high rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. As college students in the U.S., rates of anxiety and depression have continued to increase over the past few years and these rates have changed drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a study from Texas A&M, researchers found that 71% of students are experiencing increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak (Son et al., 2020).
With many of us having to transition to working and learning from home, we have to ask ourselves, “what can I do to rest and take care of myself?” No, not just sleep, but rest. What do you do to unwind or disconnect from work?
How Can I Rest?
As Elizabeth Gilbert describes in Eat, Pray, Love, “Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma...Americans don’t really know how to do NOTHING.” When was the last time you were able to press pause on life and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee alone, or go for a walk with no purpose, or doodle and daydream? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. Instead of replaying our to-do lists in our heads 24/7, we can take some time to get better at doing absolutely nothing. But what are the different types of rest and how do we do it?
Physical rest: Sleep of course! As college
students, we tend to struggle with this (especially around finals
week). Getting enough sleep (and maintaining a healthy sleep
schedule) is so important for our mental and physical health.
Research shows while college students are rarely getting enough of
it, we need it to maintain learning and memory skills. Creating a
sleep ritual can be helpful for some people as well (
more). Aside from sleeping, taking breaks throughout the
day, especially with spending the day sitting at our computers, restorative
yoga or stretching breaks can help relieve physical stress.
Mental rest: Begin with distinguishing activities
as rest or entertainment. Does this activity allow you to relax and
recharge? Or is it just entertainment to distract you? I know how
easy and tempting it is to spend hours mindlessly scrolling through
Instagram, Tik Tok, or Twitter, but it can also be overwhelming. We
constantly have ads thrown at us and it can become mentally
exhausting comparing ourselves to others on social media. Instead,
meditation and practicing mindfulness is a great way to rest and
relax. If you struggle to meditate on your own, there are lots of
free meditation resources on YouTube or free apps like HeadSpace (P.S. students
can get a year-long
premium subscription for $9.99 instead of the usual
$69.99!). Research shows that meditation can have positive
effects on both physical and mental health (
Emotional rest: It’s no secret that this year has
been emotionally draining on all of us, but you don’t need to deal
with it alone! Find a friend you can confide in or consider
counseling. GVSU’s Counseling Center offers a variety of counseling
services and resources.
Social rest: Take time to unplug for
just a few minutes a day. Even committing to not looking at your
phone in the first hour after you wake up may help disconnect and
let you recharge your mind. Or, take some time away from your phone
while walking to class, riding the bus, or eating. Whether you’re an
introvert or an extrovert, we can all benefit from unplugging once
in a while.
- Creative rest: Unplug and take a walk in nature or read a book you like. Mindlessly scrolling can not only take a social toll but a creative one as well (read more ). Not only does spending time in nature improve health, but it can improve creativity too!
Pressing Pause at GVSU: Rest. Relax. Refresh.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, RecWell is here to help! This year, we created the Press Pause campaign for all of us. We recognize that rest looks different for everyone. The goal of Press Pause is to provide resources and educate about the importance of rest and the different ways we can improve our health via rest. Each month of Press Pause will be dedicated to a different aspect of rest- and we want to interact with you! We will be posting a series of social media and blog posts, as well as hosting events throughout the year promoting rest. To interact with us, make sure to follow us on Instagram at @GVSURecWell, on our website, and check our blog posts! Be on the lookout for future updates, including a series of giveaways on our social media.
Above all, make time to “press pause” like you make time for work and commit to it. As we begin nearing the end of our long (and well deserved) holiday break, we encourage you to take some time to recharge and think about how you can incorporate rest into your everyday life. It’s not always easy and it often takes a conscious and intentional commitment to do absolutely nothing, but your health and happiness will thank you later.
By: Sofia Hessler, WIT Peer Educator
It is a known fact that people have a hard time during the winter. The holidays create loads of stress, the gloomy weather puts us into a sad slump, and now with the Coronavirus pandemic on the rise again, this winter will be harder than ever. In order to make this season great, we have to actively try to make the best of it! Years of research have proven that the key to happiness is “a sense of social connectedness” (Vox.com). With the spread of COVID-19 still happening, we’re here to share some ideas on how to stay happy throughout the season while staying safe:
Staying Physically Active
According to the CDC, keeping up with regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your body. Along with the physical benefits, muscle strengthening and toning, and decreased likelihood of heart disease and Type II diabetes, exercise has many other immediate effects. Exercise has proven to increase cognition in people of all ages, and drastically reduce the risk of sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression. It is hard to stay active in the colder months, especially when stuck indoors, so GVSU has lots of virtual workout options to use at home!
Keeping Up With Mental Health
As mentioned before, physical activity can improve mental health, but for those who struggle to exercise regularly, focusing solely on your mental well-being is ok too! One thing that scientists have found to promote a healthy mind is to focus on the idea of your “smaller self.” This is defined as a “healthy sense of proportion between your own self and the bigger picture of the world around you” (Vox.com). In doing this, you are able to focus on the smaller things around you that truly matter. When worrying about things you can’t control, you put yourself in great distress, without an answer that will satisfy you.
Time with Family (or Not)
Many students may be heading back to their family home for the holidays, and it’s important to prepare for it being different. Your room may have been changed, your routine and your family’s routine has changed, and your thoughts/beliefs may have changed. The best way to prepare for the trip home? Make a plan ahead of time.
- Don’t be afraid to set yourself some boundaries and let your family know what those are.
- Take alone time when you need it.
- Prepare for tough conversations whether they are around politics or social injustice or what to eat for dinner. Know how you will respond.
- Know what to do if there might be a time where you don’t feel safe to be your authentic self (have a plan for another place to stay or ride back to campus, etc).
Making a Hygge Home
Making your home, or apartment, a place of comfort can greatly improve your mental health. In Denmark, an important aspect of everyday life is hygge. Pronounced hoo-gah , the word’s closest literal translation means “coziness” and embodies the essence of it as well. The Danes created hygge to cope with the cold, dark, unbearable winters in Denmark. As Michigan begins to feel like the arctic circle this winter, hygge would be great to incorporate into your living space as well!
- Light lots of candles, incense, wax melts, or diffuse essential oils to fill your home with a comforting aroma. Some scents that are known to reduce stress are lavender, lemongrass, and sage.
- Hang string lights throughout the room to give off a subtle glow and warm ambiance.
- Drink coffee or tea in the mornings to get a cozy start on your days, and cuddle up with a warm tea or hot chocolate in the evenings to get your body ready for bed. Some flavors of calming tea include chamomile, valerian root, and lavender.
- Keep blankets and throw pillows out to create a welcoming and comforting environment for anyone that enters.
Hygge is known as “an art of creating intimacy” (HyggeHouse.com). There is no set way to “buy hygge,” because it's all about your own happiness. In the process of creating your own hygge home, remember to add what speaks to you! In doing this, you are able to focus on yourself and the important things around you. Staying happy during this season will be harder than ever because of the pandemic, but remembering to put your happiness before other things can relieve loads of stress for you this year.
By: Camryn Lane, WIT Peer Educator
The time change can be disorienting. It happens every year, but I’m still shocked that it’s already dark at 5 PM. Besides thinking it’s 9 PM at 6 PM, many people may begin to feel unmotivated, tired, or sad during this time. This is because as we approach winter, we experience less and less sunlight. By the time we reach the Winter Solstice (December 21) those of us in Michigan are getting less than 9 hours of daylight, which is 6 hours less than in June! Plus, winter usually means more cloudy days, which unfortunately gives us even less of a chance to see the sun. This change has many effects on our mental state.
How Less Sunlight Affects Us
Reduced sunlight disrupts our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is like a biological clock that tells us when our bodies should feel alert or sleepy. A disruption may leave you low on energy during the day. This can also change the levels of a sleep hormone called melatonin, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. Reduced sunlight can also cause a drop in serotonin levels, a brain chemical that affects our mood.
Common Effects of Less Sunlight
During the fall and winter months, you may find yourself oversleeping or struggling to stay alert during the day. I personally have to stop myself from taking multiple naps; my bed just looks so welcoming! Aside from that, you also may become more short tempered or anxious than usual. Many also experience a change in appetite or weight.
In more intense cases, this is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. In fact, those with preexisting conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are often more susceptible to the effects from a lack of sunlight. SAD is characterized by heightened, constant, and long-lasting symptoms that often worsen as the season progresses. The GVSU University Counseling Center is open to all students and FREE. Aside from RecWell, they are another great resource if you’re looking to improve your emotional well-being!
How Can I Reduce the Effects?
Get outside and stay active! Time spent outside is proven to calm the mind and improve self-confidence/clarity. Exercise, whether that’s a short walk around the block or following an intense workout video, is also proven to boost mood and overall well-being, as well as improve appetite and sleep cycles. Any amount is beneficial, but consistency is key, so set time aside each day for you to focus on your well-being. Seriously, it could be as short as a 5 minute stretch!
Light therapy is another popular treatment option. A light therapy box mimics sunlight, “tricking” your brain! Many feel great improvements in alertness and mood by sitting in front of one for just 30 minutes a day. Our very own WIT Advisor and RecWell Student Health Promotions Coordinator, Katie, uses one in the winter months to help when she's feeling down or lacking energy. She says it gives her that little extra bit to keep going during dark, winter days.
It’s important to understand that it’s common to feel a change in your well-being with the change of seasons. Remember, you’re not alone and there are many GVSU resources that can help! Check out student wellness information from RecWell, look into the University Counseling Center, or reach out to your friends. And remember, spring is right around the corner!
By: WIT Peer Educator, Stella Sterling
With virtual work and school, it can be hard on your body to sit consistently. Since the beginning of COVID-19, there has been a 33% decrease in physical activity, from 108 minutes per week to 72 minutes per week. Alternatively, there has been a 28% increase in sitting time, from 5 hours a day to 8 hours.
Keeping yourself active and moving, even if you are stuck at a desk, can be beneficial for your health. Wherever you are, most stretches can be modified for either sitting or standing. If able, you can stand at your desk while stretching, or if you’re sitting working on midterms or school projects, there are also stretching techniques that can be done seated. Stretching will help with posture, pain, and productivity, and here are some you can do:
Neck And Shoulder Stretch
Hunching over your desk can start to place strain on your neck and stiffen your shoulders.
- Stand at your desk, reach your arms behind you, interlock your finger, and lift your arms.
- Start to lean forward and bring your chest to your legs like a forward bend, allowing your arms to hang.
- You should feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders, releasing built-up tension.
Seated Hip Stretch
Having tight glutes can cause pain in your knees and lower back. Making sure to stretch your hips and keep the glutes loose and active to help decrease other pains and possible injuries.
- Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, take one ankle and place it on the opposite knee.
- Keeping your back straight, from here, start to fold forward, bringing your chest to your lap.
- The more you bend, the deeper the stretch will begin to feel in your hip and glute area.
Being seated can cause a lot of pressure on your lower back, spinal twist can help release lower back pressure as well as elongating the supporting back muscles. This can be done either seated or standing.
- When seated, place your left hand on your right knee and twist your entire body towards your right side
- Looking over your shoulder, hold here then unwind and twist to the other side
- When standing, have your arms straight in front of you.
- On an exhale, open up your arms to one side
- Bring one arm behind you and keep the other in front. Hold here, then unwind and repeat the process on the other side.
The spine can hold a lot of tension throughout the day moving the spine in flexion and extension can help to loosen the body
- Sit up straight, and on an inhale, arch your back looking up and hug your shoulder blades together moving into the cow part of the pose.
- On the exhale, round the back and move your chin towards your chest moving into the cat part of this pose.
- Repeat as many times as you need.
Creating circles with your ribs will create more movement in your torso.
- Keeping your hands on your thighs, move your ribs from left to right.
- After you feel comfortable with that, think about shifting your ribs forward and back, like you would with cat-cow.
- Put those together moving from right to the front, left then back.
- Repeat as you need and try to rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise.
This is a pose that helps release the tension that can build up in your lower back from hours of sitting.
- Inhale to help lengthen your spine as tall as you can.
- Exhale, and folding forward, bring your chest into your knees.
- Relax into the pose and take a couple of breaths with your chest to your knees, letting your arms and head hang heavy towards the ground.
- Come out of the pose when you're ready by leading with the top of your head, walking your hands up your legs, and keeping your spine straight and tall.
Whether you are working remotely, have all online classes, or are going into an office, keeping your body moving is key to living a healthy life. Try to stand up and move around once every hour. Change what you're sitting on, whether that be a swivel chair or exercise ball. If you’re able, work at a standing desk. If you don't have access to a standing desk, make one at home using laundry baskets, books, or any crates or boxes you may have laying around. Even just moving your work environment from the dining room to the kitchen table to outside can keep yourself moving. Take just a little time out of your day to stay active. A body in motion stays in motion, even if it’s just a few stretches a day.
By: Erin Colling
- Dickens, Louise. “15 Simple And Quick Office Stretches To Boost Work Efficiency.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 14 July 2014, www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/15-simple-and-quick-office-stretches-boost-work-efficiency.html.
- Rasmussen, Rebecca, and Rebecca Rasmussen. “10 Chair Yoga Stretches To Undo The Damage of Sitting.” Paleo Blog, 13 Mar. 2019, blog.paleohacks.com/chair-yoga-stretches/.
- Tummee.com. “Standing Spinal Twist Pose I Steps.” Tummee.com, www.tummee.com/yoga-poses/standing-spinal-twist-pose-i/steps.
- Wedig, Isaac J, et al. “Infographic. Stay Physically Active during COVID-19 with Exercise as Medicine.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 23 Oct. 2020, bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/10/23/bjsports-2020-103282.
The best face coverings for exercise should keep you safe, comfortable and dry, while being flexible enough to bend and move without falling off during your workout. Stay safe and comfortable while you break a sweat.
Why do I need to wear a face covering while exercising?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a face covering as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. The use of face coverings is even more important in an environment such as the Recreation Center, where individuals increase their respiratory rate (heavier breathing). The heavier an individual is breathing, the further their respiratory droplets can potentially spread.
Is it safe to exercise with a face covering on?
Yes; it's safe to wear a face covering while exercising, but considerations and precautions should be made. It’s recommended that you perform low- to moderate-intensity exercise rather than vigorous exercise while wearing a face covering. This is because of the decreased airflow allowed through the face covering which is caused by an increase in inhalation and exhalation resistance. This decrease in air flow can make it more difficult to catch your breath and impact your ability to properly regulate body temperature. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that the increase in inhalation and exhalation resistance has a very minor impact on the body’s physiological ability to effectively achieve respiratory ventilation (less than 3% during low to moderate physical activity). In other words, exercising with a face covering is safe, though you may experience some slight discomfort.
Selecting and Wearing a Face Covering while Exercising
Look for face coverings with two or more layers that are made from lightweight, moisture-wicking materials that will keep your face dry and comfortable. Since you’ll be moving, select a face covering that has a bit of stretch to it to ensure that it moves with you and doesn’t slide down during your workout.
Your face covering should be comfortable and snug around your cheeks and nose, and large enough to cover your nose and mouth. Test and adjust the fit prior to exercising. If your face covering is uncomfortable, or makes breathing difficult prior to exercising, chances are it will continue to be uncomfortable and hard to breathe in during your workout.
- Check to ensure your face covering fits properly, covers your mouth and nose, and is secure so it doesn’t slide down or move during your workout.
- Take a moderated approach to exercise intensity. Face coverings may increase perceived effort and decrease performance during your workout.
- If you tend to sweat a lot when you exercise, bring an extra face covering with you to replace the damp one.
- If possible, have a few face coverings that you use specifically for exercise. This will help ensure you have a clean face covering available each time you plan to exercise.
- Be cautious and err on the side of caution. While exercising with a face covering, some may experience side effects including dizziness, light-headedness, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms occur, stop exercising.
- Change your mindset. Be grateful that the recreation center is open for you to utilize. Wearing a face covering is a small inconvenience compared to not being able to access the facility.
Lastly, wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol prior to putting on your face covering. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering, and wash your hands afterwards. While exercising, your face covering should be viewed as a barrier, and not an impenetrable shield. Therefore, continue to follow safe social-distancing practices, regular hand washing, and other sanitation measures, such as thoroughly wiping down equipment before and after use.
By: Becca Guilford and John Offerman
Considerations for Wearing Face Coverings:
- Slow the spread of COVID-19. (2020, August 7). National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html
- Roberge, R. J., Kim, J.-H., & Benson, S. M. (2012). Absence of consequential changes in physiological, thermal and subjective responses from wearing a surgical mask. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology, 181, 29-35.
- Scheid, J. L., Lupien, S. P., Ford, G. S., & West, S. L. (2020). Commentary: physiological and psychological impact of face mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 3-4.
We are living in a new normal, a normal of face coverings and social distancing. Because COVID-19 is still so new to us, there are a lot of questions and uncertainty around the virus and its impact. It is, however, important to get back to some form of “normal” for your overall health. We can do this while adapting to the recommended Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and keeping others safe.
How COVID-19 Effects Your Body
COVID-19 is a viral infection; the virus sticks to the small hairs found in your nose and cells found in your mouth. Once the virus has attached to the cells in your body, the active replication starts almost immediately in the upper respiratory tract. 80% of people will have mild symptoms such as a cough, fever, and loss of taste or smell. Of that, 13.5% of people will have to be hospitalized due to shortness of breath. Symptoms and signs of distress will appear in individuals 10 days after they contract the virus. After you contract the virus, it is possible to get your lungs back to normal, but it will not be an overnight fix. As a result of COVID-19, your lungs will begin to develop scar tissue, which will take approximately six months to a year to fully heal and get back to normal oxygen levels. After you contract the virus and are symptom-free, you are able to get back to daily activities, such as working out. However, you should consult with your primary care provider on the best course of action for your personal needs.
Before Starting Back Up with Exercise
Upon arrival back into your fitness or exercise routine, make sure you are limiting your alcohol and tobacco consumption, eating healthy meals, trying not to skip meals, drinking plenty of water, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule to aid in your body’s healing process. Drinking alcohol does not cure COVID-19, and the excess use of alcohol can be harmful by increasing your health risks. Before you enter into exercise, make a plan for modified exercises on your first day back. Having more than one plan and being flexible is also important for easing back into your routine. Some things to keep in mind:
- Breaking an intense 30-minute exercise into two 15-minute low to moderate sessions
- Modifying your workout
- Checking facility websites for updated cleaning, capacity guidelines, and any equipment restrictions
Once you are able to get back to exercise, avoid pushing yourself too hard; your body needs time to heal. You should only be working at about 50% of your usual intensity, and slowly ease your way back into it. Make sure to stay hydrated when working out, and monitor any other changes that your body may experience. Some individuals may feel lightheadedness or dizziness when returning; try not to panic. Slow down the workout and take a break to catch your breath. If symptoms don’t subside, then, following CDC and facility guidelines, take your face covering off to help maximize airflow. Try to avoid exercises that are extra demanding of your cardiovascular system, like a HIIT class, as it may be more difficult or cause more symptoms of lightheadedness and dizziness. Finally, as always, keep up with CDC guidelines to wash your hands regularly, stay six feet away from others, and avoid face touching.
Staying active, whether it’s in the gym, outside, or at home, is beneficial to your health and wellness. Most forms of exercise can be performed almost anywhere. Especially now, it’s easy to find at-home workouts online. Whether you are someone who benefits from doing an at-home workout, going for a walk, run, bike ride, or hike, it’s important to keep moving and stay active. And don’t forget: stay hydrated, eat a healthy snack or meal, and do an active recovery cool-down to gradually lower your heart rate back to its resting state. If you go to the gym make sure to wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, use your face covering, and maintain social distancing. Staying active and adapting a routine is one of the most important things you can do to help your overall health during this time.
By: Erin Colling
- Exercising after COVID-19 Flyer
- GVSU Recreation & Wellness
- GVSU Alcohol & Other Drugs Services
- GVSU Campus Health Center
- GVSU Family Health Center
- Reynolds, Colleen, et al. “How to Adapt Your Workout While Wearing a Mask.” OSF HealthCare Blog, 8 July 2020, www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/how-to-adapt-your-workout-while-wearing-a-mask/.
- “Should I Exercise with a Mask On?” Mercy Health Blog, 4 Sept. 2020, blog.mercy.com/coronavirus-covid-19-face-mask-while-exercising/.
- “What Are the Effects of COVID-19 on the Lungs?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-what-happens-inside-the-body.
Deciding what to eat before a workout can be tricky. Eating too close to workouts or choosing the wrong foods may throw a wrench in your fitness routine. Add in a full day of classes, plus time for a healthy snack before being active, and it can sometimes seem almost impossible. Fortunately, we have some great tips on how to help you worry less about fueling up and focus more on your workout ahead:
Experiment with eating times.
- The truth is... there is no timeframe to eat before exercise that works for everyone’s body. Instead, find what works best for you within the timeframe of 30 minutes to 4 hours before beginning physical activities.
- Adjust portions accordingly to the amount of time you eat before your workout. For example, a snack would be a better option if eating 30-60 minutes before, and a meal is better for eating 1-4 hours before starting a workout.
Build a good snack.
- Carbs normally get a bad rep, but they’re a fantastic source of energy and are essential to any pre-workout snack. A good pre-exercise meal or snack will have carbs to help increase your energy and speed up recovery after.
- However, be sure to include some protein as well. This will help reduce soreness you may experience after your workout.
- Choosing foods that are low in fat and fiber will ensure tolerance to avoid an upset stomach.
- Fun fact: our bodies are made up of approximately 2/3 water. This means that we not only need to drink an adequate amount everyday to promote better health, but especially when doing physical activities of any kind.
- Be sure to hydrate by consuming fluids, such as water or your favorite sports drink, an hour before working out.
- You can also hydrate by choosing foods mainly made up of water, such as watermelon, lettuce, and tomatoes. This will help to prevent dehydration that could end your workout early.
Have one of these tried and tested pre-workout combos.
Still a little hesitant on where to begin? Try a snack listed below that’s a good carb and protein combination to get your workout off to a great start:
1-4 hours before exercise:
- Lean hamburger or chicken on bun + side salad + yogurt or fruit parfait
- Low fat cottage cheese + crackers + grapes
- Oatmeal with brown sugar and walnuts + skim milk + banana
- Baked salmon + brown rice + roasted veggies
30-60 minutes before exercise:
- Apple or pear + nut butter
- Dried fruit + mixed nuts
- Jam sandwich
- Sports gel, bar, or gummies
Connect with our dietitian!
- Make an appointment with our Registered Dietitian for a personalized approach to your nutrition. Appointments can be made by contacting Fitness and Wellness Services at 616-331-3659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All packages include 3 appointments and are only $15 for students!
By: Alex Sixt
It’s officially a new year - can you believe it?! With a new semester comes adjusting to a new schedule. It can be difficult to plan exercise and healthy habits while simultaneously mapping out classes, but it’s important to start creating healthy habits early on. Get a head start on improving your wellness by getting involved with Recreation & Wellness and attending some of these upcoming events:
- Looking for a challenge to start of your year? Look no further! TREK 100 encourages participants to complete 100 miles in 9 weeks (challenge is from Jan 1 to Feb 28, right before Spring Break)!
- There’s a variety of ways to get your miles - running, walking, taking a Group Ex class, playing IM Sports, using equipment in the Rec Center, or really any other way you like to get moving.
- You get access to an online dashboard to log and keep track of all your miles for you!
- Need more motivation? Our leaderboard shows where you rank among all participants, and we’ll be giving away free swag at certain mileage milestones!
- Register here to begin your TREK on January 1!
Outdoor Adventures Trips
- Get “OA” (get it?? Get away…) from campus and into nature! Trips are a great way to enjoy the great outdoors with other GVSU students, explore, and make new memories!
- Take a trip with us to Michigan IceFest to try ice climbing in Northern Michigan or
- Travel to Moab, Utah for Spring Break and choose between two adventures: hiking or climbing.
- Each trip has specific information about transportation, what to bring, and how much it costs.
- Check out a complete list of OA events on our website for more information on how to join the adventures!
- Feeling a little tense lately? Schedule an appointment with our massage therapist! A massage is the perfect way to unwind and relax.
- Our massage therapist is trained in Swedish, relaxation, deep tissue, and sports massages to help get your body feeling better.
- Schedule an appointment at 616-331-3659 or email@example.com.
- As a student, chances are that you spend a lot of time looking at a screen; it’s where we get most of our information! Fortunately, RecWell has the perfect excuse for you to take a break!
- From February 23-29, we’ll be “unplugging” with a variety of activities that will help you disconnect from technology (and social media, or whatever that means to you). Plus, these opportunities allow you to connect more with others and maybe even meet new people!
- There are so many ways to get involved this week, we can’t list them all - so check them out at gvsu.edu/rec/unplug Or, tell us why you unplug and how Rec&Well programs help you take a break from technology!
8 Dimensions of Wellness
- Check out the 8 Dimensions of Wellness to help you navigate and prioritize your wellness this winter.
- Take an inventory of your wellness with this short quiz.
- Check out our wellbeing guide for tips on promoting wellness on campus.
- Registration will open on January 1, but check out all of the IM Sport schedules now!
Get a fresh start in 2020 by establishing healthy habits that can carry you into the next one! For more ideas on how to get involved with Recreation and Wellness, visit our website.
By: Alex Sixt
With busy schedules and a few too many trips to late night, you might find your diet slipping when it comes to getting the nutrition that you need. Eating healthy on a budget, in a small kitchen in your apartment, and with a full day of classes isn’t always the most convenient. Some our our our favorite tips for making nutrition a habit and a lot more accessible are:
Water, Water, Water. Yes, you’ve heard it time and
time again. Drinking an adequate amount of water every day can have
substantial effects on your health. Staying hydrated promotes better
mood, and optimal body function. Stray away from drinking too
many liquid calories, such as sodas and juices, that have a lot of
hidden sugars. If you’re looking to shift your current habits, keep
liquid calories as a treat. We suggest bringing a water bottle to
class to make drinking water convenient and more accessible.
Try meal prepping! If you have a full schedule and
are often too tired to cook when you get home, plan for the week
ahead. Instead of feeling tired and hitting the drive thru, have
something ready to warm up when you walk in the door. Meal prepping
will save you money, time and make healthy eating less stressful.
Whether overnight oats for busy mornings or just making 4 servings
when cooking dinner instead of one, your busy self will thank you
for planning ahead. (Pinterest
has plenty of ideas to switch up your meals from week to week!)
Read your labels. This doesn’t mean you have to
switch up your current eating habits; you should just be more aware
of the things that you’re putting into your body. Oftentimes the
sugar, saturated fats, and calorie count can be misleading if you
aren’t accounting for the serving size. Sometimes a simple swap can
offer much more of the things you want, like nutrients, and less of
the things you don’t want, like sugar. Apps like My Fitness Pal also
provide an easy way to track your nutrients by simply searching for
the food that you’re eating!
Keep healthy options readily available. If you get
a sudden craving for something before bed, keeping healthy sweets
like fruit at hand will help curb those unhealthy cravings. If you
don’t have unhealthy options at easy access, you won’t eat them.
Plan out healthy snacks to bring to class and for times like late
night cravings. We suggest things like nuts and fruit. Or if you
really are craving the unhealthy snacks, buy those in portion
controlled containers. Buying those snacks in bulk sizes can lead to
you eating more than needed.
- Visit our dietician! For a more individualized approach to your nutrition, make an appointment with our Registered Dietitian right here on campus. Appointments can address concerns ranging from how to eat healthy on campus, as well as how to adopt healthy eating behaviors and concerns like eating disorders and dietary restrictions.
For more information about nutrition:
- check out our tip sheets about grocery shopping tips, simple food swaps, and fighting the “freshman 15”,
- call us at (616) 331-1732 to connect with our dietitian,
- or visit the Recreation and Wellness website.
By: Alexis Smith