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  • Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Connor Julian, a senior at IPFW, lifts weights at the IPFW Athletics Center. IPFW offers an array of programs to help students stay fit.

  • Kendra Butler, a senior at IPFW, runs on the treadmill at the IPFW Athletics Center. Staying active can help students avoid weight gain, as can dealing with the stresses that come with college.

Monday, October 09, 2017 1:00 am

Local colleges help students get fit, stay fit

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Judy Tillabaugh wants students to look at IPFW as a “fitness arena.” With the campus located right on the Rivergreenway, not to mention the short distance to Johnny Appleseed Park, as well as paths for walking, biking and skateboarding, students have the ability to stay active all year long.

The campus also includes a fitness center for students, indoor track, basketball and racquetball courts, weight training and intramurals.

Those are just some of the programs and initiatives the campus offers “that can prompt a student to include fitness into their day,” says Tillabaugh, coordinator of fitness and wellness at IPFW.

Tillabaugh says that the weight gain some students may see while in college doesn't necessarily involve food and being active. She says it could be attributed to how students manage the change in their lives and dealing with stressors that occur from classes and other demands of life.

Tillabaugh says there are resources on campus and student groups to help students adjust with things on campus, focusing on mental health and managing stress.

But there's no doubt that unhealthy eating habits can contribute to those extra pounds. A registered dietitian, Tillabaugh says IPFW provides education awareness, such as making healthy food choices, meal planning and tips for grocery shopping, for its students. In addition, the Center for Healthy Living on campus offers a college cookbook for students that includes nutrition guidelines, cooking tips, tips for eating out and of course user-friendly and budget-friendly recipes for meals and snacks, she says.

Tillabaugh says all foods can fit into a healthy style of eating, even that pizza and Quarter Pounder. “It's how much you have that might contribute to that extra weight gain,” she says.

That's when it's important to appropriate meal calories, make informed choices and control food portions.

At the University of Saint Francis, many of the students live off campus, which can become difficult when their home environment has not changed, says Katie Dwyer-Zeman, director of student activities.

She says the university works to provide its non-residential students, as well as its residential students, with opportunities to be active that they wouldn't  have at home.

That includes student activities, such as clubs and organizations, intramural sports and different leagues such as volleyball and basketball. There is even an Ultimate Frisbee Club on campus, she says.

“That's our hope,” Dwyer-Zeman says about keeping students active and engaged. “... The opportunities are there for you take advantage of and hopefully they meet the needs and desires of the student body.”