Living a healthy lifestyle in college can be challenging. However, to some students, the Student Fitness Center is practically a second home.
While staying fit is important, these gym rats may not realize that there is such a thing as overdoing it when it comes to keeping one’s body in shape.
Over-exercising may have more detrimental effects on the body than one might think.
Dr. Victoria Brockhouse, assistant medical director at Student Health Services, considers more than four hours of exercise per week an unhealthy amount.
She explains why a period of recovery is necessary after exercising and how an extreme amount of exercise can cause stress on the body.
“You can raise the hormone known as cortisol, which can stop testosterone from doing its part to build muscle. Your metabolism may decrease as a way for your body to conserve energy and in extreme cases, women can stop menstruation,” Brockhouse said.
Fitness may be used by some to stay healthy, but others use it as a tool to lose or maintain weight. Brockhouse says there is no specific amount of exercise that is right for everybody.
“How much exercise depends on a person’s condition when starting a program. For young, healthy college students, 2.5-3.5 hours a week would be ideal,” Brockhouse said.
Being overly cautious of one’s nutritional intake can be harmful as well. Lynne Frichtl, a registered dietitian at Student Health Services, says there is a term for those who eat too consciously.
“A person that has an obsession with healthy or righteous eating may be suffering from othorexia,” said Frichtl.
She explained that although orthorexia is not considered an official eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association is considered with its dangerous effects.
Eating nutritiously should be a priority for all students, regardless of age, weight or other health concerns. However, an occasional indulgence will never affect overall health.
One candy bar will not add five pounds to the scale or make eating that salad for dinner “not even worth it.” Giving into cravings once in a while is important to avoid binge eating.
Extreme dieting is often seen in college, especially as a way to shed weight-gain from excessive alcohol and fast food consumption.
“I don’t believe in dieting,” Frichtl said.
“When people go on a diet, all they can think about is eating and this may lead to failure. Developing healthy eating habits most of the time and allowing yourself an occasional treat is a good start.”
Exercising and eating healthy foods are recommended, but when these habits become obsessions, they can be detrimental to the lives of even the most health-conscious people.