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The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: It’s about longevity

oplongevity-illo

Ever since I was young, I’ve constantly heard about the importance of being healthy and taking care of yourself. Back then, being healthy was about eating vegetables, which as a child were poison, and exercising in some way, which often felt like a punishment. When I was young, I didn’t understand the importance of being healthy and what advantages it brought. Healthiness felt like a cruel idea, because what could be good for me that wouldn't let me eat candy and watch TV?  

Growing into my teen years, being healthy felt like an unattainable goal only achieved by those who looked a certain way. Health, to me, seemed like dieting and exercising vigorously in hopes to obtain a certain look, and only once you’ve obtained the abs and fit physique will you be deemed healthy. It felt like a toxic journey to reach healthiness, and I struggled understanding what it really meant. 

As I approach my twenties, now in college, I’m beginning to understand and define what being healthy means to me. I’ve realized it’s not some fad diet or 30-day workout challenge that swears will give you an eight-pack if you just push through the pain, discomfort and hunger. And my desire to be healthy doesn't and shouldn’t stem from wanting to look a certain way or please others. Being healthy is not about looking a certain way, and looking a certain way does not dictate whether or not you’re healthy. Instead, it stems from a place of self-love, and most importantly, a desire for longevity.  

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When you’re young, longevity seems like an irrelevant issue. I’m young, of course I’ll live forever! I’ll never break any bones, my body will always bounce back and disease can’t touch me. Then coming to college, after catching the frat flu, being stagnantly hunched over a computer for weeks on end and fueling your body with nothing but ramen and too many energy drinks, you start to question those previous assumptions and certainly begin to feel less than invincible. 

I realized this rather quickly. Freshman year, the dining hall food was unsatisfactory and the gym was a 20-minute walk away — a trek that had to be made rain or shine, morning or night. It was difficult to take care of myself, and I felt the effects of that, even if it was just for a short amount of time. That year felt like a foreshadowing of my life if I continued to neglect my own health, and from that I learned the importance of exercise and took the liberty of doing some research into healthy habits. 

There are so many ways to be healthy, and in turn, help you live a long life. Even if you’re in college, working a job or just a very busy person, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your health. You don’t have to wait until you’re at a point in your life when you’ll have more time, more money, more drive and motivation. The present is as good a time as any, and starting habits now will only aid you in the long run. 

Staying physically active is a strong way you can take care of yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to book it to the gym every day for hours on end, lifting weights and running until your legs give out. In fact, just 15 minutes of exercise a day can increase your health and add years into your life. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a solid deal. 

RelatedCOLUMN: College — the seemingly endless road to success College doesn’t have to be the best four years of your life.

Additionally, a significant but often overlooked factor in regard to longevity and health is stress. Chronic stress can be especially harmful and can lead to heart disease, depression, and a decline in functionality. In today's fast paced world it can be hard to find a moments peace, but taking time for yourself to mediate or do a mindful activity can benefit your wellbeing considerably. 

Eating healthy is also a guaranteed way to promote health, but more specifically, eating more plant foods. Swapping out processed snacks and meals for more fruits, veggies and whole grains can not only lower your risk for disease, but also boost longevity. There’s also so many other ways to stay healthy and promote longevity — stepping away from screens, going outside and spending time with friends. Taking these habits into account not only helps with health, but it will just help you feel better in general. 

At the end of the day, the goal is to feel good for a long time. Healthy doesn’t mean looking a certain way or living a specific lifestyle seen by social media health influencers. You can be healthy and extend your life years by finding a lifestyle that works for you and incorporates healthy habits.  

So all in all, take care of yourself. You deserve to live a long life. 

 

Caitlyn Kulczycki is a sophomore studying media advertising with minors in psychology and creative writing. 

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