Overeating and Over-walking: The Freshman Zero

Making the transition from high school to college has brought many changes to my life, along with the whole slew of freshman that find themselves nicely and neatly packed into East Halls with lots of room to spare.


For one, I sweat much more at Penn State than i ever have before. The oppressive State College humidity, matched by an appalling and blatant absence of dormitory air conditioning has brought my personal perspiration levels to an all time high. I’m easily over my beads of sweat per month quota. Nonetheless, when looking into how different aspects of college life could affect the fitness, health, and weight of a college student, I couldn’t find any justifiable evidence that profusely sweating is by any means a good way to lose weight.

One thing I’ve noted, though, is the calorie burning potential that comes as a result of the extensive walks to class from East Halls. According to www.verywell.com, the average male burns seventy to one hundred twenty calories for every mile walked. While at first this may not seem like much, consider this – the walk from East Halls to the Forum Building and back alone is a mile. Walk that route or one of similar distance twice a day, along with the necessary travel getting food or going downtown, and you’ve already walked about three miles.

The pre-downloaded ‘Health’ app on the iPhone has a built-in pedometer that keeps track of your steps, how many miles you’ve walked, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, etc., so long as your phone is in your pocket or in your hand during such traversal. Since I’ve moved in on August 19, I’ve walked between three miles and eight miles on any given day. So, if I walk an average of 5.5 miles per day, using the table that www.verywell.com supplies, I burn 400 to 500 calories strictly from making my way around campus.


Someone who weighs more will burn more calories from walking than those lighter than them, while moving at an accelerated pace expends more calories as well. Regardless, burning 500 calories from walking alone is considerable; 500 calories is nearly an entire meal. Wondering just how substantial an extra 500 calories burned per day is? www.health.com reports that trimming 3,500 a week, which works out to 500 per day, can shred two pounds a week.

For simply walking around campus, this is a tremendous turnaround.

However, a statistic such as this assumes consistent eating habits, perhaps even a confined diet. College, however, as many of us know, is the pathway to the infamous ‘Freshman Fifteen”. While the likelihood of gaining fifteen pounds may be low – in one study, about 10% of college freshman gained fifteen pounds over the course of the year, while a quarter actually lost weight – many freshman do gain 2-6 pounds their freshman year. In fact, the same study, per the Atlantic, found that there is no true distinction to be made between the change in weight of a college freshman and the change in weight of a peer who does not attend college.

Regardless, there is a particular demographic that is particularly affected by weight gain upon arriving at college (all you can eat dining halls may be to blame) and something as simple as walking can help combat it.



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3 thoughts on “Overeating and Over-walking: The Freshman Zero

  1. Trevor Richard Dennehy

    This is interesting, I wonder how this would work out considering that the destinations we are walking to are typically destinations in which we act very sedentary; sitting in classes, at the library, at the dining hall, etc. So even though we’re walking to get to these destinations, we’re not doing much in the way of burning calories once we arrive.

  2. Parker Jax Yochim

    I wonder how calorie intake among students changes as they begin college. Many high schools have federally regulated lunch menus that have a limited amount of calories, unlike the Chick- Fil-A and Burger King that can be found in the hub. Not to mention the calories gained from student’s weekend habits (binge drinking).

  3. Madison Danielle Starr

    I never thought to look on my health app to see how far I’ve been walking. Turns out I average five miles a day. That, on top of the fact that a low percentage of people actually gain the true freshmen fifteen gives me some hope. Your post was well written and extremely relevant to everyone in the class.

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