A Healthy New Year

USF’s Exercise is Medicine experts weigh in with tips for the new year.


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2011) – So maybe last year’s New Year’s resolution to eat healthier didn’t last past the leftover holiday candy. And that promise you made to get up every day and exercise was no match for a comfy couch and a riveting football playoff schedule.


But now the New Year is upon us and at USF the Exercise is Medicine initiative is hoping to infuse the campus with new enthusiasm and information on how making small changes can mean a big difference in overall health.


USF President Judy Genshaft has made the Exercise is Medicine committee – headed by College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen and Alan Kent, Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness – a permanent fixture on campus with the goal of making USF an easier place to get and stay healthy.


Exercise is Medicine on Campus is a national initiative developed by the American College of Sports Medicine established with the following guiding principles. USF Provost Ralph Wilcox serves on the national advisory board of ACSM, which is encouraging USF and universities nationwide to raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity to create environments that encourage physical activity.  The committee is already examining the campus community for new ways to help students, faculty and staff work exercise into their day.


USF News asked members of the local Exercise is Medicine Committee to share their tips and own New Year’s Resolutions to live healthier. Here’s what they had to share:


Jennifer’s Lifestyle Reminders for Busy People


In times of stress: TAKE CARE OF THE BASICS


  • Eat regular meals (especially breakfast).
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine (at least 30 minutes).
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Don’t keep feelings and frustrations in. Talk to a trusted friend.
  • Take time to reflect and “disconnect.”


Nutrition Reminders:


  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Make a point to eat something nutritious to start the day.
  • Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.
  • Majority of calories should be consumed earlier in the day, not at night.
  • Reduce/eliminate late-night eating.


Fitness Reminders:


  • Exercise at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
  • Incorporate both cardiovascular (walking, jogging) and strength training activities.
  • Don’t let exercise drop off your to-do list.
  • Switch exercise routine every 3-4 weeks to prevent boredom.


Sleep Reminders:


  • Go to bed approximately the same time each night and get up approximately the same time each morning.
  • Relax before going to bed. Have a wind-down routine.
  • Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Alcohol and tobacco disturb sleep patterns.
  • Exercise earlier in the day and not right before bed time.


Relaxation Reminders:


  • Take a time out and clear your mind.
  • Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Physically relax your muscles. Start with your face and work your way down to your feet and feel your muscles become relieved of tension.
  • Read something for pleasure and enjoyment; possibly something inspirational and uplifting.
  • Reconnect with nature.


— Jennifer DiPrete
Director, Wellness Education and Promotion

Beverly Douglas, Special Assistant to the VP, Administrative Services:


I resolve to walk instead of drive to more of my cross-campus meetings. I can get a few minutes of exercise while walking to and from meetings, and by encouraging a co-worker to walk with me, we can both benefit from the exercise.


Kira Zwygert, MD, Executive Wellness Center, USF Health:


Schedule exercise into your day, so you will be more likely to make the time for it.


Larry Collins, PA, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, USF Health:


Park one or two spots further away from your office every day or so.  Over the course of a semester it will add significantly to the amount you walk each day.  If everyone on campus did this it would reduce some of the crowding in the parking lots and when you are running behind, there will be a spot open closer to your building!


Donna Petersen, Dean, College of Public Health:


Get moving USF!  Ten minutes, three times a day, anytime, anywhere.  I keep a hula hoop in my office.  You can hula hoop while you are on a conference call, or in between meetings, anytime you need to get moving!


Alan Kent, Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness:


Getting some extra exercise in the New Year can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You’d be surprised how easy it is!


Deb McCarthy, Director, Students with Disabilities Services:


Disability, pain or medical conditions can make regular exercise difficult.  Persistence and perspective are important. Small movements, stretching, and non-weight bearing activity has a positive effect over time.