To eat or not to eat? That is the question. After a stressful year of studies, students find themselves free of any constraints: What happened to the study, eat, sleep cycle? Most students cannot even fathom the thought of doing anything with their lives at the moment – I mean, why not enjoy all the freedom? From staying at home binge watching your favourite series on Netflix to socialising over a meal, food can be the greatest source of comfort for anyone who has undergone high levels of stress. So what do you do: do you fall for it or do you fight it off?
As with everything in life, human beings strive to be the most comfortable they can ever be. One way they can achieve this is through food. According to research, adolescents gain more weight during the summer break than throughout the school year. Obesity in Malta is considered as the major cause of mortality among children and adolescents with an alarming rate of 40%. It is no secret, Maltese people are no strangers to food. So how can we contain one of our highlight characteristics?
Summer break makes up the largest period of ‘out-of-school time’. During this time, decline in physical fitness and weight gain is the direct result of inactivity as well as increased food intake, (we get it, we’ve all been there). However, it is important to realise that with the summer break come unstructured schedules and loss of physical fitness. While it is understandable that in this inferno of a weather we call ‘summer’ in Malta, there are still many possibilities to combat weight gain while casually walking past the 35 degree temperatures.
Alternative Physical Activities
Yes, here you have it: a small list of alternatives that will rob you of an excuse not to work out. Surrounded by gorgeous beaches, top on the list is swimming. It is a great way to get active in the water as well as soothe those muscles after hours of hunching over your laptop. While you’re there you can even have a go at water polo or step it up a notch with kayaking. Another possibility is early morning or late night jogs – try to avoid the peak hours as much as you can. If you happen to be more of an indoors person, you can always hit your local gym or sports complex where you can choose from a vast selection of activities alongside your summer best friend: air conditioning.
Sports and heat – not much of a happy couple
With the blazing sun and heat that accompanies summer in Malta, it is important to take necessary precautions to combat the dangers that the sun has in store. Workouts should always take place in the early morning or at the end of the day. Try to structure your day to accommodate your workout sessions – in that way you can also gain more control over your schedule and watch your weight. Watch out for dehydration because when training you are constantly losing water. Make sure to cool down; wet your cap, constantly drink water (but never iced water!), spray your face and neck with water, and stay in the shade as much as possible. You can also reduce the possibility of a heat stroke by stopping your workout at any sign of dizziness or headache. Heat stroke is never far off, along with other possible complications!
Summer School – wait for it!
According to research, adolescents who attend summer school have more opportunities to be physically active – which could be a good indicator for the increase of physical fitness during the summer. A summer school programme incorporating physical exercise as well as a breakfast and lunch programme has the possibility of cancelling out the disadvantages of the summer break and the consequent body image related issues that accompany it. Taking together a structured summer school programme along with healthy food and appropriate physical activity may promote healthy lifestyle habits all year round for students.
Park, K., S. & Lee, M., G. (2015). Effects of summer school participation and psychosocial outcomes on changes in body composition and physical fitness during summer break. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem, 19(2), 81-90. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.5717%2Fjenb.2015.15052005
Stephanie is a Psychology and Theatre Studies student who is currently participating in the internship programme with Willingness Hub. She has a great passion for music and seeks to combine the arts with psychology as a field.