Students perform a balancing act with their health

Whether you’re a full-time parent, a hardworking athlete or a diligent student, trying to cram every necessary task into one day can sometimes be impossible.

After a stressful morning or a hectic afternoon, many people can relate to the feeling of wanting to put health and fitness on the bottom of their list of priorities. Not a stranger to this feeling at all is nineteen-year-old Courtney Carter, who juggles school, work and a social life. I got to sit down on Carter’s lunch break to talk to the sophomore business major about her schedule and how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s hard to find time to get homework done,” Carter says as she takes a bite out of her sandwich.

Always on the move, Carter takes 18 credit hours at University of Colorado Boulder, works three days a week and tries to stay active as well as social. Once an avid swimmer, she tries to find time to run at the gym after class.

“I just kind of merge it onto the end of my day if I’m going to do that,” Carter says. “Or I’ve gone on the paths around Boulder a couple times so that’s fun…It’s hard to find time.”

The Rec Center at CU lists their hours on their website and they are open anywhere between 12 and 18 hours a day, depending on the day; but between going to class, working, eating healthily, sleeping enough and occasionally having time to socialize, Carter and other students are often left to put their health on the back-burner.

It’s no secret that your health is generally tied to your success and your ability to perform tasks. Students like Carter, who used to spend at least 10 hours a week in a pool, find themselves stuck doing homework. Carter thanks her grandparents for making sure she’s at least well-fed.

“I’m currently living at my grandparents’ so the eating enough is not so much a problem,” she says with a wide grin. “They make a lot of food and they make sure I’m constantly eating, pretty much.”

Support from the student’s home and school environments is crucial to academic success. Students who are supported in their physical health goals at home tend to do better in school, with their grades being a direct representation of this. Carter’s grandparents, Chuck and Sandy Mattson, think she works too much and is too busy, though they’re supportive of her and her choices.

CU encourages students to keep health and fitness as one of their focuses during their time here, offering free basic nutritional consults, personal trainers for hire, even a flu-clinic and massage therapy. In a city such as Boulder, health is always high on the list of priorities.

However, we should keep in mind that health doesn’t stop at working out and eating well. I asked Carter about her social life and, when asked if she feels like she gets enough time to hang out with friends, she said she felt as though that was something genuinely lacking in her life.

“Honestly, I don’t [socialize much] and it’s made me really sad this year,” Carter says. “The only time I’m really free is on the weekends after 5 o’clock.”

Most of her friends, predominantly business majors and engineers, also have jobs. A lot of them work evening jobs so they have the day free for school and studying, though Carter says she feels as though they’re at an advantage living on campus.

“Next semester I’m planning on only taking like, 15 credit hours,” Carter says. “Maybe working two days a week instead…Living on the dorms, it was a lot easier to hang out with people when they were 5 minutes away or across the building. They’re busy and I’m busy.”

Another important part of overall health (if not the most important part) is making sure you get enough sleep at night. University of Georgia’s University Health Center states that college students, on average, get 6-6.9 hours of sleep per night, slightly less than the recommended 7-8 hours recommended by the National Institutes of Health.

“I have 8 a.m.’s twice a week,” Carter says. “[I go to bed] usually pretty early — like 11, 11:30.”

Many people would say that 11 p.m. isn’t that early of a bedtime; but in a survey done by Niche, 52 percent of students reported that they go to bed between 10 a.m. and midnight, with 30 percent reporting that they go to bed between midnight and 2 a.m.

“I guess motivation,” Carter said, when asked what could help her have a more happy, healthy life. “On the weekends, I work seven hours and I get home at 5:30 or 6 and then I don’t want to do homework — I just want to take a nap and watch TV!…So then I’ll push it off until Sunday night. And then Sunday night comes around and it’s a horrible night.”

Many students, like Courtney Carter, don’t see dropping classes or quitting a job as an option.

“Even in high school I worked 10-20 hours a week and I would do swim team,” Carter says with a chuckle. “Lots of stuff to do.”

At the end of our time together, Carter was quickly packing the remainder of her lunch into her bag. Her lunch was over, and it was time for her to return to work. I asked her what she would tell her freshman self, if given the chance:

“I guess I wish I’d met more people, made more friends and got more involved early on,” Carter says. “[My] floor was really close except for me and a couple other people.”

Below is the transcription:

CARTER: I guess I wish I’d made — met more people, made more friends, got more involved early on. Because like, my floor was really close except for me and a couple other people. So we didn’t really fit in so, I didn’t really become friends with anyone on my dorm or business area for a couple of months, almost second semester before I really started to becoming close with them. I had a couple friends who were engineers but… So I guess, got more involved, networking people.

WOMACK: After a stressful morning or a hectic afternoon, many people can relate to the feeling of wanting to put health and fintess on the bottom of their list of priorities. Not a stranger to this feeling at all is nineteen-year-old Courtney Carter who juggles school, work and a social life. I sat down with Carter on her lunch break to talk about her schedule and how difficult it can be to maintain a health lifestyle.

CARTER: Getting to the gym and running’s kind of hard and I usually do it after class. I just kinda merge it onto the end of my day if I’m going to do that or if… I’ve gone on the paths around Boulder a couple times, so that’s fun. It’s just, it’s hard to find time.

WOMACK: I asked Carter what she felt like would kind of help her have a more happy, successful life and she told me…

CARTER: I guess, motivation. I just want to take a nap and watch TV.

WOMACK: A feeling we can pretty much all relate to. Maybe we should just chalk it up to mental health.

END

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