WSU helps students be healthy on campus

Exercise and eating healthy can improve GPAs



Jeff Elbracht, Facilities Director for WSU UREC, discusses the importance of a healthy lifestyle for incoming freshman, as well as the facilities available across campus on Thursday.

REID BROWN, Evergreen reporter

College students don’t exactly have a reputation for eating healthy, but now may be the best time for young adults to consider the lasting impact of their health decisions. That’s the philosophy of Alice Ma, a registered dietitian for WSU’s Dining Services.

“It’s hard to think when we’re young that down the road we’re going to get older, and we are going to feel these aftereffects,” she said. “Building the habits now sets us up for the long term.”

Nutrition is a crucial aspect of not only a successful academic career but a lifelong journey of personal health. There are a variety of foods offered by dining services on campus for students of all dietary needs, Ma said.

She points out how easy it is for new students to limit themselves to one station or keep to one dining center on campus. Ma suggests students explore different types of food.

Ma makes sure there are healthy options in the dining centers on campus but collaborates with the chefs so that burgers, pizza, wings and other not-so-healthy choices are also available to students who may want them.

“Don’t feel bad if you do indulge occasionally,” Ma said.

Balance is crucial and Ma subscribes to the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is eating well the majority of the time while making sure students feed their cravings every now and then.

General healthy eating is a key for academic success, Ma said. On those long study stints, whole grains will keep students fuller longer than a bowl of cereal that will leave them crashing from an unsatisfying sugar high. Fruits and vegetables are chock-full of fiber and are composed mostly of water. Hydration is key for concentration, Ma said.

Jeff Elbracht, director for all WSU Student Recreation Facilities, said, “If you develop a habit now of regular exercise and taking care of yourself physically and mentally, you’re probably setting yourself up for a much better quality of life.”

Exercising enhances a student’s total experience at college. Not only does regularly taking time to go to the gyms on campus improve a student’s physical health, but it can do wonders for mental and social health as well. Exercise may even play a significant role in a student’s academic performance, Elbracht said.

A survey conducted by the Institution of Research in 2016 found that students who regularly use the athletic facilities on campus have higher GPAs, Elbracht said.

“You’re more productive after you exercise, so even though it takes time out of your day, you’re probably making the rest of your day more productive,” Elbracht said.

WSU makes exercise accessible to anyone who is willing to get themselves through the door, Elebracht said. Students can find full-service gyms in the Chinook, the Student Recreation Center, and the Stephenson Fitness Center.

There are also opportunities to participate in activities with intramural sports teams and events with the Outdoor Recreation Center. Anyone of any level of fitness can find a way to incorporate exercise into their time at WSU, whether that’s through a class, a sport, or just independent exploration, Elbracht said.

“We’re all busy. Identify what’s important and carve out a piece of time for that. That might be one of the best skills you can learn in college: how to best use your time,” Elbracht said.