Outrunning a Climbing Obesity Rate
As U.S. obesity rates reach record highs, many UA students say running is a fun way to stay healthy and stress-free.
Approximately 20 percent of college students nationwide are overweight, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities. About 46 percent consider themselves overweight and 46 percent are currently attempting weight-loss.
“I run around three to four times a week,” said Lucas Cummin, sophomore biochemistry major and former competitive runner. “It just makes you feel good.
“I go to Skull Creek to run normally,” Cummin said. “It is not all mainly concrete there, compared to running on the UA campus.”
Sophomore physics major John Fleming has been running since sixth grade.
“I started competing and just got better and better to where I really enjoyed it,” Fleming said. “Running is a great way to stay healthy and have fun pushing yourself at the same time.”
There has been a dramatic increase in the U.S. obesity rate throughout the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.
More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The state of Arkansas has a 30 percent obesity rate, nationally ranking ninth in obese adults and seventh in the obese children, according to the Trust for America’s Health website.
Running has been shown to help not only with weight loss but with sleep productivity and bone health.
Studies show that people who exercise regularly and intensely spend more time in stage 3 and 4 slow-wave sleep, according to the Running Research News Website. Fit runners averaging 45 miles per week spend 87 minutes in slow-wave sleep, which is 13 minutes longer than unconditioned people.
“Jogging will strengthen the muscles and bone density of your legs, hips and back,” according to the Motley Health, Fitness Strength and Weight Loss website. The constant impact caused during running can also increase bone density, as long as a healthy diet is maintained.
Research carried out by Professor Mike Gleeson from Loughborough University found that gentle aerobics such as jogging help to ward off colds and flu by up to 33 percent.
Exercise has also been shown to help college students’ grades.
A 2010 study at Saginaw State University in Michigan found that students who exercised vigorously daily had higher grade-point averages compared to those who did not by an average of .4.
“Running really helps to just clear my head,” said Tom McMahon, freshman history major. “It helps me put my day in perspective and sort out my to-do lists. Also, I always feel productive after a run, which makes me want to have a productive day in class.”