What does it mean to have Physical Wellness? Physical wellness means getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active every day, and getting an annual medical check-up (1).
Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical wellness is important because your body needs to be healthy so you can perform to the best of your ability in all areas of your life, including academically. Physical activity is just one aspect of physical wellness. It also includes managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet. Many college students struggle with getting enough sleep. Staying up late to cram for an exam or write a paper can be counterproductive because you will accrue sleep debt. If you are sleep-deprived, your memory will not be as good and you will not be able to learn efficiently or focus your attention. Also, sleep, stress and physical activity are all connected. If you are physically active, you will reduce your stress level and will probably sleep better as well.
How do you cultivate Physical Wellness? To cultivate physical wellness you must get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) every night (1). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. Incorporate strength training and stretching into your exercise routine (5). You can achieve a balanced diet by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (1 serving = about 1 cup), eating whole grains and, if you eat meat, make sure the protein is lean (e. g., fish, chicken). Limit saturated fats, but consider including more unsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as chia seeds, avocados, and salmon (6). Avoid consuming trans fats (6). In general, make sure to eat a variety of whole foods to get the most out of every meal (7).
- Ohio State University Student Wellness Center: 9 Dimensions of Wellness https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
- Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School: Importance of Sleep: 6 reasons not to scrimp on sleep https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
- UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services: https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/physical
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Why is Sleep Important? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
- Choose My Plate: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats https://www.choosemyplate.gov/saturated-unsaturated-and-trans-fats
- Choose My Plate: USDA Food Pyramid http://www.foodpyramid.com/myplate/