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Friday, April 23, 2010

Save our student

Article Collected by AndhraColleges.com - Education is My Passion

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Size zero, six packs, tattoos, parties, coupled with academic demands — life of one category of students today. On the other side of the spectrum is another category of students whose lives revolve around junk food, bingeing, little or no exercise, and once again coupled with academic demands. 

In fact, a majority of the Indian student community today has so many demands to meet that health doesn’t feature on their priority list at all. “Admittedly, there is limited time to take care of your health as a student. 

Something else is always more important,” confesses Prateek S*, a SYBMM student. “I’ve been falling ill often these days, due to my erratic sleep and food cycle,” reveals Shashank D*, a final-year BMS student. 

“College activities are a priority for most of the year. Health awareness comes up only when vacations start,” confesses Radhika Mohandas, a SYBMM student. 

“Today’s youngsters are out of tune with their body’s requirements and capabilities. Gone are the days when kids went down to play or socialised with sports. Today’s kids hang out at malls, coffee shops and movie theatres. All these places are filled with unhealthy junk foods from chips and colas, to buttery popcorns and ice creams,” explains Naini Setalvad, a renowned nutritionist and obesity and health consultant. 

Problem Areas 
While will address the mental health issues separately, here we look at important aspects of physical well- being. Thus, we touch upon crucial issues like healthy eating practices and what many students are actually opting for, the importance of physical fitness and regular exercise. We also visit the-not-so-often discussed, yet vital, issues like skin care and sex education. 

Food for thought 
One of the most often ignored areas when it comes to students’ health is food. “College kids often eat because they are bored and don’t want to attend lectures. Add to it the fad of late partying and binge drinking. Their regular meals too have a very low intake of vegetables and water, which coupled with little physical exercise, takes a heavy toll on their bodies. Diseases like obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes and blood pressure thus become common occurrence,” analyses Setalvad. 

“I eat what I get because I am a boy and that also means that I’m always hungry!” justifies Prateek. Eating in the college canteen is a given these days. “Considering the course I am pursuing, and that my mother works, it’s whatever’s available. I try to stick it without food till I can, then canteen zindabaad,” states Radhika. “Whatever is healthy for me and doesn’t prove problematic for the stomach is in,” says Brahmay Lad, a BMM student. 
Anandita K* seals the discussion in favour of ready-to-eat meals, “I eat a lot of Maggi because it’s easy to eat. I also don’t end up eating all meals a day — sometimes it’s just a light dinner, at others, I snack on chocolate throughout the day.” 

There are, thus, those who overindulge in junk food, and those who starve to be skinny and aim for bodies that are really quite unattainable. “Contrary to popular myth, it is not just girls who deprive themselves, but many young boys too either go on starvation diets or overdose on protein shakes to get the so called ideal body. This deprivation of real wholesome quality foods causes many physical problems which are often irreversible. The key organs and systems that take a beating are the reproductive organs, the bones, the kidneys and often even the heart,” warns Setalvad. 

“I normally try and make healthy choices when it comes to food. But life’s no fun without some indulgences. My food choices go haywire when I study though. Exams make me fat,” confesses Janhvi K*. 

Exams do certainly cause loads of stress and while stressed most students find comfort in eating junk. “To deal with exam related stress, students should eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds and drink lots of water, daily,” advises Setalvad. 

All study no play 
Lack of physical activity does make a student dull. “I am not interested in sports, have no time to go to the gym, hence normally I do not tend to indulge in any form of exercise. Sometimes I go for a walk in the park, that’s it,” says Shashank sheepishly. “College and projects obviously eat into exercise time. Regular college calls for a lot of walking and commuting, so that’s my form of exercise,” says engineering student Tanvi Prakash. 

Keeping these constraints in mind Namita Jain, a certified clinical exercise specialist, lifestyle and weight management consultant advises, “Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Planning is the key. For example, Monday to Friday, students should choose activities they enjoy. They can allocate 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity based on their schedule. Remember, anything that gets them moving counts as exercise. If children do not exercise, energy levels will simply not pick up. It is therefore important to break the inertia.” 

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who go to any limits to stay ‘thin’. Anandita shares, “Some girls tend to starve themselves completely. They live off less than one meal a day.” Radhika adds, “One of my friends does yoga every morning, even if she has to wake up at 4.30 am, she doesn’t miss it. Yet another friend doesn’t miss gym for anything.” 

For all such students, a must know. “Students need to keep in mind that their basic shape is genetically pre-determined. They can slim down, gain weight or muscle, but they cannot change the structure and frame of their body. Not everyone is cut out to look like a movie star, or become a sports legend. But, within their framework, they should maintain a body that is attractive, fit and healthy,” Jain offers. 

Having covered both ends of the spectrum, the area that now needs to be addressed is the importance of being physically active during exams. “Exercise is a great stress-buster and also improves concentration. If students use a little time to move around and be active, blood circulation improves. It becomes much easier to sit for the long exam hours with a clear head and a steady hand,” Jain suggests.
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