Aug 182004
Authors: Briana Selstad

A familiar day for many students begins early with a blaring alarm clock.

It continues with long classes, an 8-hour shift at work and an essay or two, with a struggle to squeeze in a quick workout.

While balancing school, social life and work can be an exhausting task, Chad Ingersoll, a graduate assistant at the CSU recreation center, emphasizes sleep, nutrition and exercise to help students keep their energy up.

“Stress really contributes to energy problems, and exercise and nutrition really help relieve that,” Ingersoll said.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 20 to 60 minutes of physical activity three to five days a week. Whether a brisk walk or an 8 mph sprint, any physical activity will boost energy.

However, excessive exercise may lead to tiredness and even insomnia.

Jay Hessler, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Hartshorn Health Service, says if someone is addicted to exercise it will lose its stress reducing benefits. Exercise moderation is key to maintaining energy.

Getting enough sleep is also important to making it through the day without feeling fatigued. Hessler recommends no less than seven hours and no more than nine hours of sleep every night, since excessive sleep promotes sluggishness during the day.

Often, students have the mindset that if they do not get enough sleep during the week, they can catch up on the weekends.

Still, Smith reasons that consistent hours of sleep are key for daily energy.

In addition to sufficient sleep, a balanced diet is also important.

Students should begin their day with a breakfast containing protein and minimal sugar to maintain energy, Hessler said, adding that at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day helps fulfill the body’s nutrient needs.

A daily vitamin containing iron, vitamin B complex, folate and magnesium should be used as a supplement, but not in place of foods.

Still, many students skip meals due to lack of time.

Kali Glennon, a junior nutrition and food sciences major at CSU, rarely has time for meals.

“I never eat lunch because usually I’m in class or running around campus, and then I have homework,” Glennon said.

According to Claire Smith, a nurse practitioner at Hartshorn, skipping meals results in low blood sugar and low energy.

Another excuse for poor eating habits is that students say they do not have enough money to spend on quality foods.

“Students say that, but they have enough money to go out drinking on weekends and buy their cigarettes,” Smith said.

However, it is not always the case as Stephanie Perez does not go out drinking, but still does not have the resources to eat well.

“I have to ask myself, do I want the healthy stuff that is good for my body, or do I want to pay the electric bill?” said Perez, a junior human development and family studies major.

Eating disorders can also result in a lack of energy, because when a body is forced to sustain on minimal amounts of food, it is in survival mode and stores any consumed calories.

The result of the lack of nutrients and fuel for the body is fatigue, but trying to compensate for fatigue with caffeine and energy drinks is not always the best idea, according to Smith.

The beverages contain mostly sugar and caffeine, which are stimulants. Stimulants will increase heart workload, blood pressure and anxiety, she said.

The first defense against fatigue is eating properly and getting enough sleep, but sometimes a student’s energy problem may stem from another cause.

“If it’s a chronic problem interfering with quality of life it’s possible that it may be depression or illness,” Smith said. “They may need to come in and talk to a health care professional.”

To contact Hartshorn Health Service, call (970) 491-7121.

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