All young adults have the goal of living a more healthy and productive life. A well-lived life requires the adoption and maintenance of healthy behaviors. It can be attained by engaging in regular exercises, maintaining proper nutritional habits and striking a balance between social, mental, emotional and the physical well-being of an individual. Maintaining a culture of daily activities is particularly important in preventing a wide array of conditions and diseases that affects a persons mental, emotional, physical and social welfare.
Exercising on a daily basis is a recipe for the prevention of depression, hypertension, and coronary heart diseases. Inactivity has been reported to be prevalent among young adults despite the apparent long-term psychological and physiological effects associated with physical exercises. The American College of Health Association (2006) give statistics on the prevalence of obesity among the young and old adults as having risen from 13.4% to 34.3% from 1980 to 2008. According to data presented by the center for disease control about 35% of college students are either overweight or obese. Their decline in activity has risen to an all higher level estimated to be at 36%.
Maintaining a balance between proper nutrition and physical activity can only be achieved by having a definite plan on what to eat and when to exercise. It is evident that students in college spend most of their time in computer desks, lecture halls, libraries, and cafeterias. Though the hours devoted to learning burn mental energy, it is imperative to note that both the mind and body need physical exercises to attain a level of optimum functioning. Parents, on the other hand, put more pressure on their children to perform ignoring the fact that their children need to stay fit. When an individual spends more on books alone, he or she may develop a tendency to turn to fast foods instead of planning for healthy meals. Some of the choices that the young adults can make include the incorporation of regular activities in their schedule, decreasing the intake of sugar and fats while ensuring that they eat fruits and vegetable and consume lots of water. Lack of regular physical exercises may result in lifetime conditions and diseases that could have otherwise been avoided by incorporating exercise programs in an individuals schedule.
Physical Activity and Obesity
It is no secret that America faces the possibility of a decrease in life expectancy, a scenario projected by the ever increasing levels of obesity. The rate of obesity has notably doubled among the population of students who choose to study at community colleges. An estimated 18.1 million students worked their way into colleges and universities in 2009. Statistics have also shown that over a third of the said population attend college. This category of individuals undergoes drastic changes in their transition from adolescent into adulthood. Many have described it as a stage where individuals develop lasting behaviors and attitudes. In the process of adjusting to the newly found independence and interpersonal support systems, the young adults tend to establish different eating behavioral patterns and physical activities. A significant number of these students do not put much interest into their health. The results from a national survey undertaken by the American College Heath Association in 2008 showed that a third of the students in colleges were reported to have an excessive weight or were obese.
The call by the Government on Colleges to partner with them and community agencies to curb the extent and impacts of the ever-growing epidemic of obesity is on the rise. The national leaders are also advocating for robust policy proposals in an effort aimed at promoting healthy eating and increased exercising. The nongovernmental entities have also provided funds for in-depth research and measures for prevention.
Physical and Psychological and impacts of obesity
Obesity has been termed as the second cause of premature death after tobacco with an estimated three hundred and twenty-five thousand resulting cases of early death. According to Desai et al. (2008), individuals who are overweight have a significantly reduced health-related quality of life and they have negative perceptions of mental health, physical and social functioning. Incidences of obesity are likely to lead to an increased risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression. There is usually some form of bias directed towards individuals who are obese. They are often subjected to discrimination when it comes to performing tasks and simple exercises in school with other people labeling them as lazy. There is also some consistency in a bad performance of the overweight and obese students in colleges.
Obesity also impacts heavily on the image and self-esteem of a student. The constant teasing and bullying by fellow students affects them psychologically and may even lead to cases of depression and cases of suicide. The problem of low self-esteem trickles down to performance at school. Persons suffering from obesity tend to be socially disconnected and do not interact much with other people. Given the unexplainable high rate of obesity cases in college students, the faculty and staff need to address the issue with urgency (Pargman, 1969). The ecological niche in which the individuals occupy should be addressed. The economic realities faced by students and the barriers that prevent them from accessing proper food and regular exercises is also a matter of grave concern. Since community colleges are centers training physical therapists and other professionals, they have a vital role to play in strengthening the curriculum to create awareness on the importance of undertaking physical exercises and proper nutrition as a measure to reduce the cases of obesity.
Despite the fact that heart diseases are not common among college students, it still poses some considerable risk in some young adults. At this age, there is usually a substantial build-up of plaques in the arteries. Those individuals with a family history are at a greater risk at a tender age. Unhealthy eating habits especially intake of foods with high fat content increase the risk even further. It is important that the young adults in colleges exercise as a measure to prevent heart diseases. The healthcare professionals recommend exercises of up to three to five times a week. The tasks should be as simple as taking a long, brisk walk after classes a few times a week. Creating an exercise program is also a useful measure to reassess goals and to keep the motivation levels higher.
Physical activities and mental health
In their studies, Sarros and Densten (1989) asked students to rate the effectiveness of different ways of managing stress that is related to college stay. Some proposed exercises and physical exertion, socializing and support from peers and staff. Exercise, in particular, has been listed as a means of reducing stress. Sources of stress that affect college students are varied and also differ within individuals over time. They may result from the limited ability to manage the different sources of stress emanating from multiple sources. For instance, a person who devotes most of his efforts in managing work related to academics or other work responsibilities spends less time managing other things such as finances and interpersonal relationships. When time comes for such a person to attend to either personal or financial issues, they may experience a significant drop in their academic responsibilities or performance. Most students usually complain about the lack of enough time to manage all of their responsibilities.
As previously stated, the transition of individuals from adolescence into young adults is often accompanied by a decline in the externally imposed structure, more so in the case of college students. This implies that the young adults will for the first time be expected to be entirely responsible for developing their schedules. For those who feel unprepared to manage their time successfully, they face the risk of both adverse academic and mental outcomes. Research by Kwan (2011) shows that the perception that one is in control over their time correlated negatively with the perceived stress related to academics and positively with the ability to solve problems in addition to psychological and physiological health. There is a presumption that the development of skills to manage an individuals time could boost a persons efficacy with accompanying health benefits and performance. Studies have also shown that engaging in vigorous physical exercise plays a protective role against stress, yet the competing demands that are linked to the increase in responsibilities prevent youth from being active.
College students are more often than not subjected to the strenuous curriculum while at school. There is always a need for them to maintain a balance between their academic and personal lives. Since they do not have a prior exposure or training on how to plan their work and manage their time effectively, they often find themselves in situations where they develop phobias and anxiety during the examination period. Physical exercises play a significant role in managerial approach that embodies the ability to develop some sense of self-mastery in the development of internal strategies aimed at regulating the different dimensions of symptoms in reaction to the situations that may be stressful in life. They also exert certain beneficial effects on symptoms related to anxiety.
Physical exercises have time and again been prescribed as a treatment for emotional disorders. Recreational and activity therapies have with time been part of treatment for inpatients with psychiatric for some years now. A deeper understanding of how human beings can cope with behavior is essential in the development of both the preventive and therapeutic interventions. Studies conducted by some physicians and sports medicine journal noted that about 85% of the physicians who were surveyed offered exercise as a prescription for the treatment of depression. The efficacy of vigorous exercises in the management of depression and anxiety, however, is still based on circumstantial evidence.
Research by the University of Wisconsin showed that activities such as aerobics when performed for a period not less than twelve weeks was useful in the reduction of the levels of depression. It is also the most potent psychotherapeutic tool, and its action could only be equated to that of anti-depressants (Morgan & Goldston, 1987). The value of physical activity cannot be understated when compared to treatment using drugs. Although several advance has been made regarding psychopharmacology and its role in the treatment of mental disorders, many people do not the full benefits because of the side-effects associated with psychopharmacologic agents. There has been an emergence of a research base recently; that allows for the experimentation with exercise-based intervention.
Collective exercises are mandatory for an increase in interaction opportunities. Regular activities have been observed to be an effective way of either improving or reducing depression in college students. Exercises improve the endorphin content that is vital for changes in the mood so that the reduction in levels of depression can improve the euphoria of students. Exercises can be used by students as an avenue to vent out all sorts of trouble and disturbing emotions that affect the psychological balance.
Exercises can be incorporated successfully into courses dealing with mental health to teach college students the strategies on how to cope with issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety. It is onl...
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