Ways Going to College Affects Your Health

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By d-mars.com News Provider

Countless young people are working on their college education.  Though it may seem like a breeze, there are students who are dealing with pressures in college.  Some may face challenges to their health, both physical and mental, that may have long-term effects reaching well past their undergraduate years.

“I advise students to maintain a balance,” says James Davidson, assistant vice president for student wellness at the University of Nevada. “Your health is more than the physical condition of your body. There are multiple aspects of wellness to consider… When one area gets out of balance, it usually affects the other aspects of your life, whether you realize it or not.”

Some of the challenges college students face are stress, the psychological effects of debt, and sleep deprivation.  Below are some additional health issues that college students face as they embark on higher learning:

Binge drinking – Up to 40 percent of all college students report engaging in binge drinking (typically defined as consuming four drinks on one occasion for women, and five drinks on one occasion for men). The behavior does a number on students’ brains, with research showing that young adults who drink heavily have abnormalities in the gray and white matter of their brains.  While binge drinking has an array of short-term negative effects, it can have more residual effects as well. A survey of 1,972 U.S. college students, interviewed during their college years and again 10 years later, found that some binge drinkers were more likely to experience alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse later in life. They also had poorer job opportunities and a higher risk of dropping out of college.

Depression – Research shows that college students face heightened levels of depression and anxiety, with freshman often suffering the most from these issues as they adjust to a new environment. The conditions can also lead to increased substance abuse, poor academic achievement and suicide.  Depression often goes unreported by college students, but some studies suggest that students are becoming more comfortable in speaking out about this problem – the rate of reporting depression is increasing.

Social anxiety – Most college students experience a brand-new social environment upon entering college, and research confirms that almost all of them experience varying levels of social anxiety and stress.  One study that followed the social lives of 53 college women for five years found that social hierarchy was a dominant force in their lives, and that pressure to achieve high social status was prevalent.  The study also found that social stresses were correlated with excessive drinking, and could lead to poorer academic and life outcomes due to a ‘partying’ lifestyle.

Weight gain – While many new college students fear the fabled “freshman 15,” the addition of 15 extra pounds is not as common as it’s made out to be.  “Less than 5 percent of students are likely to gain 15 pounds during the freshman year,” said Sareen Gropper, a professor of nutrition at Auburn University in Alabama. “Instead, the typical college freshman gains anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds.”  And what makes the pounds pile on? College students tend to eat more high-calorie foods, and fail to get enough physical activity, Gropper said. “Those foods are often consumed late at night while studying, as well as during evening social activities.”  With effort and planning, healthy eating can easily be achieved on any meal plan.”

Casual sex – Although many college students engage in casual sex, a study of more than 1,800 18-to-25-year-olds who had completed at least one year of college found that the students were not any more promiscuous during their first year of college, than they were in the years prior to college.  Nonetheless, studies show that college students believe their peers are much more sexually active than is actually the case.  Commonplace or not, casual sex comes with health risks, including sexually transmitted diseases, emotional and mental distress, sexual violence and unintended pregnancy.

Long-term health effects of a college degree

While the health risks that can come with college may seem intimidating, overall, college tends to be good for a person’s body and mind.  Higher levels of education generally correlate to better health, as well economic success and family stability, which can indirectly lead to better health outcomes. People with higher levels of education tend to have improved brain development, less biological aging and better understanding and compliance with healthy behaviors, studies show.  Furthermore, research shows that education is associated with a longer life.

Thus, while college life can present some challenges, the research still supports sticking it out at school.

Story Source: www.livescience.com

 

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