The Real Big O

About one third of students here at Ohio State are Overweight or Obese.    The good news is that we’re no worse off than other universities across the country.  The bad news is that things may get a lot worse after graduation – almost twice that many people (63.4% to be exact) are overweight or obese in the general population!  Wow!  Why?

It’s a simple answer to a very complicated problem: too many calories and not enough activity.

In a recent survey, only about 60% of Ohio States students reported eating the minimal recommendation of 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  And only 40% said they took part in intense cardio or aerobic activity in the last week.  We’ve got to correct this balance between calorie intake and expenditure if we’re going to keep Buckeye Nation fit, and luckily we are surrounded by resources right here on campus to help us! 

Campus Dining Services lets you see the nutritional content of food served at Ohio State here.  Take a few minutes to see how many calories you’re actually taking in – you might be surprised.

If you need help coming up with a healthy eating plan, you can consult with registered dieticians here at Student Health or with our friends at Student Wellness.

And while the RPAC is the crown jewel of campus physical fitness, there are many other awesome facilities and programs here at Ohio State: 5 indoor facilities, 20 outdoor facilities, more than 60 organized clubs dedicated to fitness, 15 intramural leagues each quarter, and more than 50 PE classes per quarter.  You can learn more about them here

As great as these facilities are, we know that they can be intimidating – you don’t know where to go, how to use the equipment, or you feel like the super-buff regulars might give you a dirty look.  If that’s the case, then start off with something you already do every day – go for a walk! 

Rec Sports has some great maps for walking/jogging trails on campus that range in distance from 1.0 to 4.6 miles.  Grab your iPod or a friend and hit the road!

College is a watershed time in your life, so try to shed (pun intended) those old habits and gain new healthy ones.  What you learn during your time at Ohio State will shape the rest of your life and we want you to make the Big “O” at Ohio State mean “Outstanding” in every way.

Jo Hanna Friend D’Epiro, PA-C, MPH (OSU SHS)

Fitness Tips from Consumer Reports

While I was reading about state-of-the-art appliances that I don’t need but really, really want on Consumer Reports’ website today, I chanced upon a couple very cool and useful free items of interest. 

First is a list of fitness tips to help you get moving towards that 500 MET per week goal. Some of the items on the list are obvious (“Take the stairs”) but there are links to other practical topics, like building your own gym for under $100. Once you wrap your mind around the general idea you’ll be able to come up with extras on your own, like parking farther away (Traffic and Parking will thank you), crunches during commercials, or jumping jacks in the kitchen waiting for your Cup- A-Noodles to cook. Believe it or not, these little things add up. Ten minutes of exercise three times a day isn’t quite as good as sweating for 30 minutes straight, but it’s not too far off and it’s a lot better than nothing. Read all about it here.

Consumer Reports has a terrific health section on their website, worth exploring at your leisure. Of particular interest recently was this amusing video about the Ab Circle Pro:

There is also a fairly interesting review on other informercial exercise equipment. Read about it right here.

What I really want is for somebody to exercise for me. Sigh. Well, at least Consumer Reports did the research for me.

Victoria Rentel, MD (OSU SHS)

Is it possible to exercise too much?

For you couch potatoes out there with New Year’s resolutions to get out and exercise, you probably want to know how much – or if you’re like me, how little – you can get away with.

Exercise benefits are a tricky thing to measure. How do you quantify fitness? Let’s say you’re interested in how much exercise it takes to go from sedentary to fit.  What exactly is sedentary? How do you objectively measure improvement or decline? What quantities do you use to define athletic? Is there a point at which physical activity becomes too much, in which there is a diminishing return or even a risk of death?  What about mood changes? Can you measure a better mood?  Define exercise. Is gardening exercise? Weight-lifting? Cleaning my basement?

Pick five large exercise studies at random, read them, and find some crudités perhaps, while you try to make sense of conflicting evidence. Methodology, measurements, definitions all vary from researcher to researcher. A little exercise lowers your risk of some things. Or does it? Risk of death decreases until you reach a certain threshold of activity, and then doesn’t change much. Recent research suggests marathon running might not be good for your heart. Huh? Exercise can kill you?

Exercise physiologists do use a variety of measurable data points: blood pressure, heart rate, recovery time after exercise, cholesterol, glucose, and oxygen utilization efficiency to name but a few. There are some validated questionnaires to assess mood around, but clearly there is a strong subjective component to anything asking you how you feel.  With all of this swirling in my mind – along with dreams of donuts – I read a nifty post in the New York Times Health section this weekend, entitled:

Phys Ed: How Little Exercise Can You Get Away With?

The author, Gretchen Reynolds, does a great job of sifting through the evidence and consensus opinions. She makes sense of the latest thinking about METs and what they should mean to you, your body and your mind. Worth a read, then a walk, then a big helping of whole grains and broccoli.

Happy New Year, Buckeyes.  Now get out there and give me 500 METs!

Victoria Rentel MD

The Androgen Sisters Ride Again!

THE ANDROGEN SISTERS, an education and support group for women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Insulin Resistance (IR) will be resuming their meetings this quarter!

WHEN: Wednesdays from 4-6pm – January 20th and 27th, and February 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th

WHERE: The Wilce Student Health Center (1875 Millikin Road) in room 360 – right across from the elevator on the 3rd floor.  


  • Medical Review of PCOS/IR
  • Nutritional Lifestyle Changes
  • Approaches to exercise
  • Social Support
  • Strategies for change
  • Positive Thinking Patterns

If you are interested in joining the group, please RSVP by email to Beth Askue at Student Health Services.

The Androgen Sisters is supported by Student Health Services, Counseling and Consultation Service and the Department of Sport and Exercise Science