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January Is Healthy Weight Awareness Month

Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions with Help from Koret

    As classes resume this semester, many of us hesitantly pick up our usual routines. Most may be unaware however, that January is healthy weight awareness month: a time to reflect on our holiday eating splurges and head outdoors while the sun is out in San Francisco.

In the United States, 69% of adults over 20 are overweight or obese, as stated on the World Health Organization’s website. While both are preventable, it is important to differentiate between obesity and being overweight. Although Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements do not distinguish fat from muscle, a person with the BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, while 30 or greater is obese.

Carrying excess weight increases risk for many preventable obesity related diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and certain cancers, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

While high-fat, high-sugar foods tend to be lower in cost they are also lower in nutrient quality. Nevertheless, a diet of instant noodles and energy drinks remains appealing to college students on a budget, despite the fact that they can contribute to excess weight gain.

A balanced diet and engaging in daily physical activity is key to achieving and maintaining physical fitness and lowering the risks associated with high weight or obesity, reports the NHLBI.

USF students are lucky to have a variety of local farmers markets at their disposal, namely the Inner Richmond’s Outdoor Market on Clement Street every Sunday and the Haight Farmer’s Market held Wednesday afternoons. On campus, students also share the benefit of having local and organic food choices in the cafeteria, in addition to a large gym.

All currently enrolled students and faculty have access to Koret Health and Recreation Center, which is open everyday except for university holidays. Koret offers a wide range of activities both in their facilities and out including a pool, cardio equipment, basketball courts, and free group fitness classes in yoga, spinning, Zumba dance, and more. To alleviate those sore muscles, the center also offers physical therapy and massages for a fee.

For the outdoorsy types, Koret recently released their schedule for this spring’s ventures which include Skiing and a night tour of Alcatraz.

Senior sociology major Kathryn Najarian teaches zumba, a Latin-inspired dance-fitness routine, at Koret twice a week. In response to how she maintains a healthy lifestyle, Najarian responded, “I teach zumba, which is always fun. My mom also got me a FitBit for Christmas and it counts your steps which is great because it’s totally motivating. I guess an active person is supposed to walk 10,000 steps per day, and my zumba class is 6,000 steps on average, which is cool to know!”

Physician Assistant at a Southern California Medical and Wellness Spa, Stacey James, 35, highlights the rewards of physical activity, “in addition to helping to control weight, it also reduces stress and increases your energy.” She also emphasizes the effects of feeling short-term versus long-term benefits, “most people don’t feel a reduction in their risk of heart disease, diabetes, or some cancers, which exercise helps combat, but they will immediately feel a difference in their mood.”

“A healthy lifestyle needs to be promoted at all levels,” encourages Laura Mealer, a graduate student in the Master’s in Public Health program. “[There needs to be] a collaboration between parents, schools, the medical community, and the food industry, to educate and support preventative health care,” she said.

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