BY CHRIS KERNAN-SCHMIDT
George Mason has a myriad of Mason Core requirements from science labs to philosophy, and while Mason Core aims to strengthen our mind, it fails to help us strengthen our bodies. College is all about learning new skills, jumping out of your comfort zone and improving oneself. Mason Core should implement a requirement for students to take a health centered class. I am not talking just about recreation or physical education but rather nutrition, anatomy and other health-centered classes. Mason Core does an adequate job at giving students a general education, but fails to teach students basic health skills that stick with them for the rest of their lives. If students are not in-tune with how to best protect their bodies, then the mind cannot flourish as easily.
What we eat plays a vital role in how we think and feel. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.” Mental health is a major concern for students, faculty and the university. If Mason Core required students to take a health-centered class, then students could learn more about nutrition and how to eat healthier to promote better brain function. Students’ busy lives do not always allow time for healthy home cooked meals or good choices in the dining halls. Having a class to teach students how to make good eating choices, turn a yucky salad into a tasty treat, or just simply explaining the effect foods have on our bodies teaches students valuable skills that help keep themselves as healthy as possible, so they can succeed in and out of the classroom.
Not only is nutrition important to mental health and brain function, so is physical activity. You would think that students get enough walking to and from class, but the American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If students chose to take a physical education or recreation class, they could learn valuable techniques and skills needed to help keep healthy. Like nutrition, physical activity is helpful for mental health. It helps relieve stress and anxiety, and for me personally, it clears my mind. By providing students the option to take a recreation or physical education class as part of their Mason Core, they are introduced to concepts and natural stress relievers that, just like nutrition, help them succeed in all parts of life.
Every semester, without fail, I find myself stressing around midterms and finals – what student doesn’t, though? I always try to set aside some time to go to the gym, go on a run or just take the long route to class. I also try to stop myself from binge eating Panda Express for every meal or taking two servings of fries and stress eating in the dining hall. By doing all these things I feel as if I have more control over my life and it helps moderate stress. I want other students to be able to have the same skills and tricks to help themselves as well. If Mason Core were to implement a health requirement, it would give students the skills they need to help their minds succeed.