Emily Paige Blodgett
Students can learn how to avoid the freshman 15 and stay well by knowing the services offered at Troy University and nearby.
“How far do you have to walk to get an apple?” said Dr. Theresa Johnson, associate professor teaching classes in nutrition, as she explained what a food desert is. It’s when you don’t have a lot of access to fresh fruits, and you do have access to fat and sugar. This happens when the cafeteria shuts down at night.
Troy students have food options on U.S. 231, as well as fast food and vending machines. This adds up to a “food desert” in Troy. One contributor to the freshman 15 is moving away from a “gatekeeper environment” where a parent or guardian is regulating what you eat.
“The freshman 15” is a term used for the amount of weight a student could gain during his or her first year of college. The No. 1 contributor to the freshman 15 is alcohol consumption, Johnson said.
Another factor is the change in physical activity, she said. Students often played sports in high school, and they have less leisure time in college.
Much of the time when you plan a trip out of town, it includes eating and shopping. Johnson suggested that instead, you plan a vacation with activity: go hiking at Oak Mountain State Park, or go kayaking in Wetumpka.
Students have access to places on campus to play sports, run on a treadmill or swim laps. These include the Recreation Center on Elm Street, the Natatorium in Wright Hall, and a workout gym in the Trojan Center.
One way for students to get active on campus is to play intramural sports — a recreational sports league available on campus.
“Teams must come to us with a roster in hand,” said Aaron Martin, coordinator of the Troy intramural sports department, as he was explaining that the department does not put teams together.
Martin said upperclassmen usually participate more because they know more people to put on the teams. Around 2,000 students are involved in intramural sports, and 500 to 700 are probably freshmen, Martin said.
The largest sport played was flag football in the 2014-15 school year, with 52 teams. Basketball followed with 40 teams, then softball and volleyball with numbers in the lower 30s.
Another opportunity to stay in shape and play sports is being on a club team. Troy club teams include rugby, ultimate Frisbee, cricket, bass fishing, tennis, soccer and quidditch.
Martin said the intramural office is receptive to adding club teams. Other schools have closer to 30 club teams. Troy’s club teams play club teams from other schools.
A student group called Trojan Outreach informs students about mental wellness, sexual health and related topics.
“We try to teach students what is relevant and important,” said Kaitlyn Boswell, a political science major from Rapid City, South Dakota, who serves as a peer educator for Trojan Outreach and was a sophomore in the spring.
Trojan Outreach has several events throughout the year. One event during finals of fall 2014 was “Stress Free Days,” in which students could play games and learn stress management tips.
“Many of these events are in collaboration with the Student Counseling Center,” Boswell said.
In the spring, Trojan Outreach had a sexual health campaign that went along with a Safe Spring Break Campaign.
The bottom floor of Hamil Hall is home to Troy University’s Student Health Services. Its mission statement is “to provide health care and education to the students of Troy University.”
The clinic offers tuberculosis tests, physicals, blood work and doctors’ visits. The facility is open from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. as a walk-in clinic; doctors take appointments at 4 p.m.; and a gynecologist comes in on Wednesdays.
The clinic can refer students to specialists as needed.
“Most students we see for the common cold virus, strep throat or mono,” said Dimple Gilbert, Student Health Services nurse manager.
The clinic sees 25 to 30 students a day and around 6,000 students annually, she said.
If the clinic isn’t open and “something is a true emergency, go to the emergency room at Troy Regional,” Gilbert said, referring to Troy Regional Medical Center, the local hospital, at 1330 Highway 231 S.
Her advice to freshmen is to “maintain healthy habits including rest, dealing with stress, (eat) a balanced meal and hand washing.”
At SARHA, “students come in with the regular flu, cold, sore throat, minor injuries and stomachache,” said Dr. Robert Gilliam, its medical director.
SARHA is Southeast Alabama Rural Health Associates. Its Troy location is at 1412 Elba Highway.
Students usually come to SARHA because they are from out of town and don’t have a regular physician, Gilliam said.
Stress can contribute to the freshman 15 because students are in a new environment. SARHA has students come in for depression and anxiety treatments. Students also come in about sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drugs.
“Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing,” Gilliam said. “I would tell that to freshmen or anybody.” Get adequate rest, he said as advice to freshmen.
Other health services available locally include screening for sexually transmitted diseases at the Pike County Health Department, 900 S. Franklin Drive.
Emily Paige Blodgett