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Health & Fitness: How it Affects all METUans

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Fitness and health at METU NCC, Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus

Our primary goal as students of METU NCC should be to mature, make novel contributions, and dominate wherever we are. Hence, concerns about our health and well-being should be deemed monumental. This is not a rant on obesity, the many chronic diseases spreading, nor the food industry. Besides, we are already tired of the same boring research that shames our lifestyles. However, what does it mean to be fit and healthy? Why should we care? How can we improve our health and fitness? And, what does our university provide to prevent such difficulties and help its residents reach greater heights?

Distinguishing the Differences

Contrary to the belief of many, fitness and health are not the same. Simply put, being fit means doing whatever it takes to improve your physical performance levels, while health, on the other hand, is dependent on the fact that our body is functioning properly to suit our daily needs. Your health is an asset that must be taken care of and not taken-for-granted, for not a lot of gifts last you a lifetime.

Many myths emerge: giving an image that a good physique means good health. Such myths can harm many of our residents; making them endure harsh, strict, and unhealthy diets. Although it may improve some indicators of good health, such as muscle and fat ratios, there are many other factors that we cannot analyze without diving deeper into the matter.

Graph showing a simple ratio between fat percentage and health (TANITA,
2018).

Fitness

To clarify, fitness is how well your body can do sports and athletic activities. As you might have expected, you need to constantly train and improve your performance in certain activities to improve your fitness. This means attaining a certain physique, following a set diet, hobbies, and training regimen. Every sport should be treated as a world of its own, having different variables that may attribute an athlete’s success. To illustrate this, the soccer players of METU NCC tend to eat lots of carbohydrates. This would be devastating for the average resident, as we don’t move nearly as much as they do.

Health

On the other hand, health is not as straightforward. Health can be subdivided into mental and physical. Ancient civilizations have acknowledged the value of physical health, and even written numerous books about it. However, mental health has only received awareness for roughly the past century and a half (psychology developed in 1879). Thus, there still resides many ambiguities when discussing what creates a positive, determined, and industrious individual.

Sadly, many people still think of mental health as a joke. Thus, creating dogmas preventing many METUans to correlate and care for one another. A superb 80-year-old study done showed the correlation between age and happiness. More often than not, those who were happy also lived long lives (The Harvard Gazette, 2018). Hence, we establish a clear connection between emotions- such as happiness- and lifespan.

Physical Health

Taking care of your physical health is simple enough: eat properly, exercise adequately, and integrate good habits into your life. All of our students and instructors know this, yet we drown in excess information; so much that we cannot discern between what is right and wrong any more. We have made things as simple as eating properly so complex when many of our ancestors have lived healthily on simple lifestyles.

Diets

Complications tend to arise when discussing diets. Some of the people in the gym will suggest eating a lot. Others will tell you to eat less. Who is right, and who is wrong? Truth be told, there is no ultimate diet for everyone. It is largely dependant on your needs and daily activities. Of course, there are many factors to take into account: longevity, effectiveness, and risk.

1- Slow & Steady Wins the Race!

The most important thing in your diet is longevity. How long can you withstand that diet? Are you satisfied with the food you eat? Or, will it make you crave ice-cream all day rather than your upcoming exam schedule? So, make sure your diet is flexible enough for you to be reposeful.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Many people just switch to another diet right away, not ready for what lies beyond that bumpy road. We’ve all seen those videos where people make total transformations in little time. But we must remember that the cost was high, a cost that not everyone can afford. Because of that, we need to add slow, but proper changes to our lives. Perhaps you can implement small challenges every week. For example, in the first week, you may want to switch soft drinks in your fridge for yoghurt. In the second, you’ll take 30 minute walks around campus. Such simple changes will surely transform your life to the better.

2- Efficiency

Another common mistake is that we tend to focus so much on the diet and not its potency. Ensure that you are meeting your daily requirements and energy supply. This is what may cause many to panic, each one with their plan.

We tend to forget why we started all the commotion in the first
place; to live a better life. So as long as you are performing well and comfortably in your daily activities, you shouldn’t worry too much.

3- Diets & Pseudoscience

However, we ought to take a few precautions from dangerous diets. For instance, the outrageous low-fat diet has been trending for quite some time now. Fats are essential for the absorption of nutrients and the production of
hormones (American Heart Association, 2014). The same goes for high-carb diets. We tend to eat way too much when we should keep our carbs to a bare minimum, as it has been proven to lower our life expectancy staggeringly (What I’ve Learned, 2020). Doing a bit of research is the way to go if you don’t want to fall victim to pseudoscience.

An Ache to Remember

More trouble is found in our bad daily habits. Many people go to Medico due to numerous strains and aches. Perhaps a simple adjustment in the way you sit can solve all that and more. That means sleeping well, acquiring good posture, chewing your food properly, etc.

Although you may think these actions are inferior to exercise, they can dramatically affect your daily comfort and well-being over time. Something as simple as tongue posture can cure many of our modern troubles, e.g. sleep-disordered breathing, nasal congestion, etc. (Mauclaire et al., 2015). It is these small habitual changes that will dramatically decrease your visits to the doctor.

Brains & Dumbbells

Despite what many believe, exercise is essential. Sure, many people have lived long lives without it, but probably could’ve lived more satisfactorily had they done a few simple exercises throughout the week. This can be seen in a study where a group of rats were acquainted with running wheels, and another without. Unsurprisingly, the mice that had running wheels had far more neurons in the hippocampus than those without, indicating better neurogenesis (Thuret, 2015).

For those who don’t understand the function of the hippocampus, it is responsible for the essential components of human cognition. “Being an integral part of the limbic system, the hippocampus plays a vital role in regulating learning, memory encoding, memory consolidation, and spatial navigation” (Dutta, 2019, p. 3). Basically, exercise helps you to better maintain the growth of your brain. To conclude, to better increase one’s efficiency in studies, they ought to exercise more often.

Training on METU NCC campus.

A Quick Recap on Physical Health

To sum it all up, physical health is easy to take care of and improve upon. The countless views on such a topic are absurd. Sure, there may be details that make such adjustments somewhat difficult, such as a diagnosis of sorts. But in the end, physical health should be a very individual thing, a
lifestyle that provides that care for your daily needs. It should be something you feel to be very rewarding on the long run. As long as you are studying, walking, and socializing comfortably, there should be no worries.

Mental Health

Unlike physical health, mental health has been undermined for quite some time. Mental health is dependent on two things: genetics and an adaptation to the environment. Your natural mental state can change through mutations, mainly due to environmental and habitual stressors. Of course, we shall not delve too deeply into this. We just want to have a chill 4 years worth of experience. There are many ways to soothe your mental state. Some may include talking to friends and relatives, playing games, etc.

Friendship & Influence

Talking to the ones close to you can greatly improve your mood, both short and long term. Other than the fact that it creates a protective bubble that helps us forget what is bothering us, it makes a boy become a man. It’s what influences people to change their beliefs, habits, and values; a route to enlightenment. It may seem cliché, but they make all the difference in the world. Even two of the richest people, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, agree that friendship is important. They said that you should try to befriend people you see as better than you, as they are the ones that will influence you to become just like them.

Hanging out with friends from METU NCC during the summer break.

Fun Never Gets Old

Games also play a big role in our health. They may be old or new, but they usually require some brain activity; enough to help you focus on something other than whatever may be of nuisance to you at the moment. Research shows that something as simple as a board game can decrease dementia in adults and redounding the attention span of children (Nakao, 2019). So perhaps a few games every once in a while can help keep you on track.

The Inevitable Breakdown

Whether it may be you or a friend of yours, you will most likely witness a mental breakdown. Stress is inevitable. Hence, we need to better adapt to such stressors quickly, and without hurting neither our people nor studies. Talking to a close friend or relative is always a viable option. If you prefer to keep such matters private, the “Student Development and Counselling-centre” is always available to assist you in your needs. They will ensure you get the care you need, listening to your worries, and offer help.

It should seem apparent that some options are better than others when approaching a problem. Let’s say that you were disappointed with your exam results. You should ask for help from a peer, create a study partner, and collaborate. Who knows, that person might as well become a really good friend of yours later on. Maybe you lost a loved one. It would probably be a good idea to go to the student development and counselling centre, as they are better equipped to deal with your struggles. Financial problems should be handled first-hand with your care-givers. If they cannot help, contact relatives. If all else fails, you can always try to negotiate with student affairs.

A Quick Recap on Mental Health

Jack Johnson once said, “I want to do something good. And out of doing that something good, something will come good to me”. METUans should have the golden rule ingrained within them; to do as you wish to be done unto you. Religious or not, it should seem apparent that the golden rule is of high value in civilizations of all forms. It creates leaders out of beggars, transform kids to scientists, and builds memories that will last you a lifetime. Thus, we instinctively sympathize with others, acknowledge the others personal affairs, and become closer to what makes us human.

The Proffers of METU NCC

There is no need to argue that relaxation is subjective. Yes, people have their differences when it comes to attaining pleasure. Luckily, METU NCC provides plenty of facilities, societies, and landscapes for one to enjoy his stay. Do the tense competitions in sports entice you? Well, there are many societies and tournaments for sports, sometimes even between other universities.

Do you like squeezing your brain relentlessly in thought? Well, you may indulge in the thought societies, problem-solving society, music society, and research. Perhaps you prefer being one with nature, drawing, and going on hikes. METU NCC offers all this and more. Although they might not be of your best interests at first, integrating them in your life will surely bestow assets upon you. To know more about these societies, feel free to click here.

Improvisations?

We must admit that everything has its upsides and downsides. What can METU NCC do to improve its facilities? What is it that it lacks to help the residents to live healthily? Even though the university has given us so many privileges, we can always try to make it even better. Well, the flaws are reliant on two main components: the food and lack of liveliness. These two are the ones that make the students most uncomfortable on campus usually.

The Food

There are many instances when we cannot make food. Maybe you were sick, really tires, or just outright lazy to cook. So what do we do? We buy food. The problem lies in the fact that there are no healthy alternatives. You can only order oily fast food. The best option is the main cafeteria, which tends to serve food not suitable for most. Many complain about the lack of variety in choices when it comes to food, spice amount and strength, and many other things. Sure, we may argue that there will always be someone to complain about the food, but the fact that multiple ethnicities avoid a certain cafeteria or restraint of sorts is a problem from the cafeteria, not the people. Does it not make sense?

Lack of Liveliness

Another component that discourages people from studying on campus is the lack of liveliness. Most people live near industrial areas, crowded cities, and constant blaring sounds. The sudden shift is alarming to most and the main cause of panic to most newcomers. Of course, this isn’t a problem the campus can solve in a day or two. There are no clear solutions to this, as this is an island with a relatively small population. However, we may encourage group activities more often, giving people a portion of the energy and liveliness of a city.

Another solution is to take a different approach to the problem at hand. Just because it is a new experience doesn’t it is harmful. We might as well use this time to utilize this seemingly eerie peace and quite correctly. Invest in your time as you see fit. And the fact that the campus is small means your relationships here will have greater meaning and impact on one another. Perhaps this approach will be a good solution to the problem at hand.

Why It Matters

Both bodily function and that of the brain are important for us to enjoy many of the activities available in life comfortably. As METUans, we should all strive to be better people: so that we may better follow our ambitions and dreams, take care of our loved ones, achieve great heights, and dominate in whatever we choose to be.

“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.”

(Andrew Carnegie)

How do you expect to achieve your ambitions and help others if you are in bad condition yourself? You’ll end up failing and/ or inflicting misery upon yourself and those who help you. How can you try to better yourself if you
aren’t even near optimum condition?

Conditioning our bodies will create a far more disciplined, imaginative, and positive mentality. A personality is better capable of tackling many problems and taking advantage of whatever appropriate opportunity reaches them. To conclude, it should only be rational to achieve great health and some level fitness so that we are smart, efficient, and strong will.

References

American Heart Association. (2014, March 23). Dietary fats. www.heart.org.
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/dietary-fats.

Dutta, S. S. (2019, August 20). Hippocampus functions. News-Medical.net.
https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hippocampus-Functions.aspx

The Harvard Gazette. (2018, November 26). Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life. Harvard Gazette.
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-studyhas-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/

Magnovo Training Group. (2017, March 13). Organizational development – Climbing the
ladder to success with your team | Magnovo training group. Magnovo Training
Group | Charity & Corporate Team Building Events. https://magnovo.com/climbingthe-ladder-success-team/

Mauclaire, C., Vanpoulle, F., & Saint-Georges-Chaumet, Y. (2015, August 15). (PDF) Physiological correction of lingual dysfunction with the “Tongue right positioner”: Beneficial effects on the upper airways. ResearchGate.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication281142349_Physiological_correction_of_lingual_dysfunction_with_the_Tongue_Right_Positioner_Beneficial_effects_on_the_upper_airways

McGuinness, D. (2011, April 24). Study scans Buddhist monk brains. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

Nakao, M. (2019). Special series on “effects of board games on health education and promotion” board games as a promising tool for health promotion: A review of recent literature. BioPsychoSocial Medicine.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13030-019-0146-3

TANITA. (2018, April 12). Do you know the difference between fitness and health? | Optimum health solutions. Optimum. https://www.opt.net.au/difference-fitness-andhealth/ Thuret, S. (2015, October 30). You can grow new brain cells. Here’s how. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_tjKYvEziI&list=PL0UBrQFP-ffAD5xiwgRjA109D6jiCm2A&index=138

Ward, M. (2017, February 8). Why Bill Gates and Warren Buffett say your friends are crucial to your career. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/08/why-bill-gates-and-warrenbuffett-say-your-friends-are-crucial-to-your-career.html

What I’ve Learned. (2020, July 26). What made the Ancient Egyptians Fat and Sick? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGq_EbYEaSY

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