As springtime approaches, many of us may have already returned to the couch, having forgotten our ambitious New Year’s resolutions. Nonetheless, we’ve all experienced or seen the “freshman 15” and are aware of the weight gain associated with the habits typically formed in college (hello, late-night Freebirds food babies and beer pong bellies). Consequently, understanding how you form habits from here on out may be essential to living a healthier lifestyle — both in college and beyond.
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracked national weight averages in overweight to extremely obese Americans from 1988 to 2008 is a testament to the “freshman 15” phenomenon, which appears to have been affecting more than just DLG-goers over the past 20 years.
On a seemingly unrelated note, modern technology has also been on the rise in recent years and technological devices are now a part of the average American’s everyday habits.
Accordingly, new exercise trends are incorporating technology to help users combat weight gain and improve their overall health. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is Wii Fit, which has arguably made fitness fanatics out of previous couch potatoes.
Dean Hovey, president and CEO of Santa Barbara-based Digifit, is creating a buzz in the health and wellness community by creating programs that help people improve and maintain their exercise habits. Digifit has a number of applications and products available that optimize user well-being by analyzing physical activity, making it easier for users to track their progress. Digifit is an example of one such recent technology that provides detailed post-workout information and potentially inspires healthy habits in users.
“Our health is dependent upon our day-in-and-day-out habits,” Hovey wrote in an essay on technology and habits. “Because habits are routine and we perform them unconsciously, we often don’t recognize the actions we take to initiate the habit. Our habitual mind takes over, requiring little if any conscious thought.”
UCSB student Natasha Sidhu plans to introduce Digifit technology and devices as part of a campus-wide campaign, including an informational video and fitness competition among students, faculty members and community members.
“College is the kind of atmosphere where students pick up both good and bad habits that follow them post-graduation,” Sidhu said. “As a fellow peer, I have realized how little students make fitness a habit as opposed to just a behavior or an activity they enjoy with their friends.”
In accordance with Digifit’s mission, Sidhu hopes that her efforts will resonate with her peers in order to engrain healthy habits.
“I want students to leave college with fitness incorporated in their lifelong schedule so they avoid future health risks and continue to thrive in their endeavors as healthy individuals,” Sidhu said.
Bob York, director of UCSB’s Technology Management Program, acknowledged the company’s desire to help people meet their goals.
“My view is that their product could be quite popular and useful here given that we have a very fitness-conscious campus.”
As college students, we have already embraced many of the emerging technologies that improve the quality of our lives. If technology can help us write research papers in half the time, maintain long-distance friendships without snail-mail and get directions quicker, why wouldn’t we also use it as a tool in achieving the best health possible?