Permanent link for A Sunny State of Mind on November 23, 2020

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

Image Credit: Katie Burdick

Image Credit: Katie Burdick

Permanent link for Relieve the Stress of Sitting  on November 18, 2020

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. 

Spinal Twist
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. 

Seated Cat-Cow
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. 

Rib Circles 
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. 

Forward Bend 
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, 
  • Rasmussen, Rebecca, and Rebecca Rasmussen. “10 Chair Yoga Stretches To Undo The Damage of Sitting.” Paleo Blog, 13 Mar. 2019, 
  • “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, 

Image Credit: Katie Burdick

Permanent link for Exercising with a Face Covering on November 2, 2020

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
  • 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.

Image Credit: University Communications

Image Credit: University Communications

Permanent link for Exercising After COVID-19  on October 28, 2020

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 

During Exercise 
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




  • Reynolds, Colleen, et al. “How to Adapt Your Workout While Wearing a Mask.” OSF HealthCare Blog, 8 July 2020, 
  • “Should I Exercise with a Mask On?” Mercy Health Blog, 4 Sept. 2020, 
  •  “What Are the Effects of COVID-19 on the Lungs?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 

Image Credit: University Communications

Image Credit: University Communications

Permanent link for Fueling Your Workout with Food on December 3, 2019

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
  • All packages include 3 appointments and are only $15 for students! 

By: Alex Sixt

Image Credit: Samantha Molnar

Permanent link for Getting Involved with RecWell this Winter  on November 11, 2019

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!

Massage Services 

  • 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

Get “Unplugged”

  • 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 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. 

Intramural Sports 

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

Permanent link for Nutrition Tips on October 14, 2019

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:

  1. 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 productivity, 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

By: Alexis Smith

Permanent link for Positive Mindset on October 9, 2019

How does the word “fitness” make you feel? Does it excite you or leave you feeling dread? Your outlook on your healthy routine is influential on your success for maintaining it. Of course, if you truly love to workout and love to incorporate good nutrition in your diet, it will make it much easier to be successful. But, what if you don’t love it? How do you change your attitude toward living a healthy lifestyle?

  • Stop viewing good nutrition and fitness as restrictions. If you completely cut out lazy days and foods that you love, you’ll be less likely to maintain that routine. Have you ever completely lost your motivation? Sometimes by making your lifestyle too strict, it can feel more like a punishment rather than doing it to better yourself. Change your mindset by creating a balance. Eat small portions of less nutritious foods, find recipes that make eating healthy fun, and don’t feel guilty about spending a day being lazy. It should be about creating a healthy lifestyle, not creating a boot camp for your well-being.
  • Find the parts of living healthy that you look forward to. Realistically, there isn’t just one way to exercise. If you don’t like the treadmill, don’t go on the treadmill. If you don’t like going to the gym, you don’t have to go to the gym! Fitness isn’t the same for everyone, and it shouldn’t feel like it has one definition. If you love group exercise or going for a run outside or rock climbing or hiking, do that instead! If you love working out with friends, find a dedicated workout partner! Be conscious of what you do that makes you excited to keep going.
  • Make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. If fitness to you is looking at the scale every night and leaves you with negative feelings, you’re creating a negative relationship between you and living healthy. Focus less on how exercise is making you look and more on how it is making you feel. How do you feel after completing a successful workout? How much more energy do you have when have a day full of eating nutritious meals? If things like counting calories has you feeling consumed or leaves you feeling dread, then simply don’t do it. Think of all the other benefits that come from exercise and make that your reason for continuing.
  • Take a step back every once in awhile. It’s important to reflect on your journey, and this doesn’t always mean focusing on your end goal. It’s important to recognize your progress, to see how far you’ve come, and to be proud of yourself! If you have a constant focus on how far you are from your goals, you won’t be motivated to achieve them. Recognize small successes - whether it is being able to do more reps, or choosing an apple over a muffin. Your self-confidence is important, and oftentimes, you are making more progress than you recognize. Pat yourself on the back when it’s well deserved.
  • Remember that a healthy lifestyle is flexible, because life isn’t consistent. Let’s face it, some days or even months are more difficult than others. Your attitude shouldn’t be that you need to get a full workout in or the day is wasted. Some days, maybe taking a walk around the neighborhood is all you have the time and energy for, and that’s OKAY! You shouldn’t have the feeling of guilt if you eat pizza with friends, or if you can't complete your workout for that day. Creating a healthy lifestyle is balancing what is good for you with what makes you happy. Choose healthy habits the majority of the time, but don’t hold yourself back from the joys of life.

Your definition of fitness is going to be completely different than anyone else’s, and that’s encouraged! We’re all different, and that’s what makes it so great. Go to dinner with friends, be lazy when you feel like it, and don’t feel like living healthy is a chore. Start each day with the mindset that you’re doing this to better yourself and your pace is the perfect pace.

By: Alexis Smith

Permanent link for What is wellness? on September 26, 2019

Being a student can be challenging to navigate and a little confusing. Life can get busy, and it might feel like you have no time to focus on yourself. That’s understandable, and you’re not alone. Knowing that and caring about your individual well-being and your experience as a student, it’s important to take time to prioritize yourself and your well-being.

What exactly is wellness?
Wellness is a life-long journey; "a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential" (National Wellness Institute). According to the World Health Organization, wellness is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or illness.” This doesn’t mean just going to the doctor when you’re feeling sick, it’s about evaluating all aspects of how you feel. As a college student, it is especially important to take care of yourself. Many of the habits you form in college may stick with you, so it’s important to build healthy habits now. Understanding the 8 dimensions of wellness can help guide your personal well-being during your college experience.

Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness involves enjoying your life and adjusting to changes adequately. It is important to evaluate your emotional wellness to ensure you are aware of your feelings and are delegating them as needed. This includes: expressing your feelings to others, seeking support in times of need and consciously evaluating yourself to improve. A good way to assess your emotional wellness is by evaluating how you treat others, feeling as if your life has meaning, and just simply liking who you are. For more tips for improving your emotional wellness, visit the University Counseling Center.

Social Wellness
Social wellness is important in creating a sense of belonging and upholding a strong support system. Coming into college can sometimes feel lonely, and it’s important to get involved and work to develop that sense of belonging. Relationships with your family, friends, and peers is important when assessing your support system. Are you balancing your social and personal time? Is your social circle a positive influence to you? These are examples of good questions to ask yourself when evaluating your social wellness. Find more ways to get involved and expand your social group by visiting Recreation & Wellness or the Office of Student Life.

Occupational Wellness

College itself is a tool toward your journey to occupational wellness. Although, it’s important to stay in touch with yourself to explore different opportunities for careers that are right for you. Are you pursuing a career that supports the life you are trying to create? Are you excited about learning in the classroom? Don’t be afraid to look into things you’re passionate about, and don’t be afraid to ask for support. Visit the Career Center or Academic Advising Center for career advice and academic support.

Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual wellness involves your formal education in the classroom but also includes all learning outside including your hobbies and other interests. Are you challenging your brain on a regular basis? Make an effort to pursue new things and keep yourself on your toes. Examples of ways to maintain your intellectual wellness journey include: reading, student organizations, attending new events, and many more.

Financial Wellness
Financial wellness is important to students being that they understand their financial situation and resources. Topics in this dimension include: income, savings, budgeting, etc. Do you feel like you have a good understanding on how to budget and handle your finances? Learn more about money management and even your journey from college to a career, visit MoneySmart Lakers.

Environmental Wellness
Environmental wellness encompasses both feeling safe in your environment and also spending time at places that support your well-being. Be conscious of the experiences that you enjoy and surround yourself with those who make you happy. If you are concerned about your safety, visit the Department of Public Safety or learn more about how you can impact the environment through the Office of Sustainability Practices.

Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness involves the time spent focusing on your sense of meaning in life. It is important to feel purpose in life and to uphold a strong connection to yourself. Do you feel like you’re living on autopilot? Focus on the values and beliefs that are important to you and surround yourself with a community that shares those same principles. It is important to feel as if your life has meaning. Get connected through Campus Interfaith Resources.

Physical Wellness
Physical wellness focuses on having a healthy body by practicing good habits. It’s important that we take care of our bodies and make sure we’re hydrated, eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Also, make sure you’re getting regular check-ups with your physician. If you are concerned with your physical health, the Campus Health Center provides care for GVSU students, and Recreation & Wellness offers something for everyone and a multitude of ways to get involved, be active, and live healthy!

Recreation & Wellness has recently changed its name from Campus Recreation, and is dedicated to supporting student well-being and toward connecting students with the resources they need. Visit the Student Wellness website or contact for more information.

By: Alexis Smith

Created by Recreation & Wellness

Permanent link for What's UFit, again? on July 16, 2019

So, you have fitness and wellness goals, but how do you know you’re on track to achieve them? Or, maybe you don’t even know where to start.  Sometimes the pathway to your fitness goals isn’t very straightforward. We get it; we know you have a lot going on and you may not be an expert. Luckily, our UFit Plan provides you with a one-on-one consultation with a fitness specialist to discuss your wellness goals, current health, fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle status. And the best part? It’s FREE for students! Basically, it’s free personal training! 

If you’re having a hard time maintaining an active lifestyle, consulting with our fitness specialists can make your goals more achievable. In your first appointment, you will discuss your goals, fitness preferences, and schedule. A plan is being created for you, and only you, so everything will be considered to make this plan manageable for creating life-long habits. Additionally, a break down will be provided outlining the importance of how nutrition, stress management, and activity levels play in your overall wellness. We’ll also give you helpful suggestions in managing them.

You will complete a fitness assessment in that first appointment to evaluate your current status of endurance, strength, body composition, flexibility, and other benchmarks around achieving your established goals. These benchmarks will be recorded so that you can track your progress as you move through your fitness journey.

“I chose to participate in the UFit plan because I liked the idea of meeting with someone to talk about my goals and help make a plan for my personal fitness goals,” said Sofia Draper, GVSU Student. “It was amazing to sit and talk about my health with someone who knew how to answer the questions I had and debunk some of the myths I had heard.” 

After your first meeting, you will receive a personalized plan to follow until your second appointment. After working through your routine, you have the option to complete a prescription appointment. This appointment will involve establishing a reasoning behind the exercises and mobility techniques that have been personalized to you. The plan is designed for you specifically, and our fitness specialists are committed to ensuring that you understand the purpose of the plan and are comfortable with what it entails. Additionally, an equipment orientation will be provided in this appointment to evaluate all of the equipment in the Rec Center and learn how to get set up on each machine. 

From there, an additional appointment will be scheduled weeks following the prescription appointment to evaluate how the plan worked with your fitness specialist. From there, the plan can be evaluated by both the fitness specialist and the client with room to reevaluate the current plan and make any changes if needed. You may also complete another round of fitness testing to track your progress from your initial appointment. 

“Getting started with the UFit plan during my freshman year at GV helped me to take control of my personal health and fitness,” said Emma Merlington, GVSU Student. “It gave me personalized options for working out and helped motivate me to schedule in time for the gym.” 

As mentioned, UFit is FREE for GVSU students, but also available to non-students for $25. To get started, contact the Fitness and Wellness Services offices at 331-3659 or

By: Alexis Smith

Page last modified November 23, 2020