This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: September 16, 2004

Healthy habits for the new school year

Maintaining good health on campus often is difficult: Long hours, heavy workloads and the constant temptation of vending-machine snacks can exact a hefty physical toll. But a steady diet and exercise regimen carries many benefits—heightened energy, reduced stress and sharpened concentration among them—that make finding the time for healthy habits essential.

NOTE: Before beginning any diet or exercise program, an appointment with a physician is recommended. These Web sites are intended to be used only for general information purposes.

First, an evaluation is in order. The Health Span Calculator (, an online companion to the best-selling book "Living to 100," was developed in part by Harvard researchers who studied the lifestyle habits of centenarians. This brief quiz estimates your current life expectancy and offers detailed recommendations for improvement in your lifestyle, particularly diet-related.

Finding reliable nutrition advice on the Web is just as difficult as finding it anywhere else—recommendations seem to change with each new research study. Even the famous USDA Food Guide Pyramid ( soon will receive an official makeover due to changing scientific understanding. It already has been adapted for Asian, Mediterranean, vegetarian and other diets (

Many government and non-profit Web sites attempt to sort through the countless dietary opinions. ( is your link to government information pertaining to nutrition, including its effect on blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. The non-profit American Heart Association ( provides its own dietary recommendations, nutrition facts and an interactive cookbook of heart-healthy recipes ( The American Dietetic Association ( also offers free brochures, lifestyle tips and a useful recommended reading list.

While the experts are divided on diet advice, they all agree on one thing: Exercise is a crucial component of good health. The non-profit American Council on Exercise ( recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, every day. The ACE's "Get Fit" section ( contains tips for beginners, exercise-technique fact sheets and a health-club locator for ACE-accredited fitness centers across North America.

Before joining that pricey health club, though, be sure to check out our very own UB Athletic Facilities ( Current UB students can use the facilities, which include a jogging track, weight rooms and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, free of charge; faculty, staff, alumni and the public may purchase a UB Recreation Permit Card at rates that rival local private fitness centers.

—Jennifer L. Behrens, University Libraries