Sunscreen, condoms and lube are all you’ll ever need for spring break…okay well, maybe not. But they were the free items given away to Springfield College students at Health Educator Nicole Bihler’s presentation, “Staying Healthy Over Spring Break” at the Wellness Center on March 11 in an effort to promote staying healthy and safe over spring break.
Let’s face it; spring break can be a very fun time for college students, however, the fun shouldn’t take away from our health. The stereotypical college spring break consists of partying every night, eating lots of food, spending the whole day on the beach and basically getting no exercise whatsoever.
“Students think that they don’t have to be doing anything over spring break, and not worry about staying healthy,” said Bihler.
Studies show that our aerobic capacity, that is our body’s maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise, decreases by 5 percent in one week without exercise. After two weeks that number jumps to 15 percent, and then 25 percent in three weeks.
Basically all of that hard work you have put in, and all of those hours spent in the gym to get that perfectly chiseled beach body everyone dreams of goes right out the window.
However, exercising over vacation is a lot easier than you think. Shopping with friends, playing games outside and going for hikes or walks are all simple ways to exercise without stepping foot in the gym.
Another way to stay healthy over spring break is to just stay hydrated, whether you plan on drinking or not.
“Binge drinking is the largest unhealthy act students commit over spring break,” stated Bihler. “That leads into other unhealthy acts.”
Those unhealthy acts include unprotected sex, hence the condom and lube; staying out in the sun too long, hence the sunscreen; and simply not taking care of your body.
Half of all sexual activity during spring break is unplanned and unprotected, which is really dangerous for everyone involved. Abstinence is the only 100 percent proven way to avoid any consequences of having sex.
The buddy system is always a good tool to utilize when you’re in a crowded mall or on a packed beach. Staying close to your friends, even if you aren’t drunk, is a smart idea so no one gets lost or worse, gets hit on by that weird person in the speedo.
When using the buddy system, it is important to know where your friends are at all times and to know if and when there is a problem. Do not be afraid to call for help, even if you think you or your friends may get in trouble. It is better to call for help and stay safe than to put you and your friends in even more danger.
While patrolling the beach with your buddies, you should remember to apply sunscreen approximately every hour or wear protective gear like hats and sunglasses. The sun is three times more intense on the beach than any other spring break destination and can cause sunburns, heat exhaustion and dehydration, which all tend to ruin a nice spring vacation.
If you plan on staying home for spring break, there are healthy tips for you too so you don’t just waste away your vacation sitting on the couch and eating mom’s cooking all day.
If you are staying home try not to sleep your life away. We all know that the college grind is tough and that everyone loses sleep during midterms, and the sound of your bed at home is sweet music to your ears. But you shouldn’t stay up late every night and then stay in bed until one or two o’clock in the afternoon.
First of all, that’s no fun for your family who just wants to spend quality time with you. Secondly, it is a waste of a perfectly good day and not healthy for your body.
Home is always the place to go for your favorite foods, whether it is your grandma’s homemade mac and cheese or your mom’s taco dip. The food at home never gets old, right?
Well, contrary to popular belief, that food can be very unhealthy if eaten on a daily basis. Instead of always eating home cooked delicious meals, try making your own healthier foods, like salads or wraps, and eating those favorite foods in moderation.
Having a fun and memorable spring break all comes down to just being responsible, staying healthy and making smart decisions.
If you are going to drink, then drink in moderation, stay hydrated and never leave your friends. If you are traveling, just remember to know your information and apply sunscreen. And if you are staying home, just enjoy your relaxation and family time.
“There are ways to stay healthy while relaxing and having fun over spring break,” said Bihler.
But above all, no matter what you plan on doing this spring break or those in the future, have fun and stay healthy Springfield.