Making mental and physical health a lifestyle

Emerson Csorba - Thu Oct 20, 2011

The U of A Students’ Union is a strong advocate for student mental and physical health. This is reflected in the SU striving to establish a Fall Reading Week that would host a “Green and Gold Week/Co-Curricular Week” with a variety of student academic sessions and social events. The same goes with our advocacy for more university councillors, and the building of the Physical Activity and Wellness (PAW) Centre. However, if we are going to advocate for mental and physical health, I think that it’s important to walk the talk. The goal of this post is to share some ideas that I have about mental and physical health, in addition to a handful of actions that I am taking in order to lead a more active life.

One thing that the SU Vice President (Academic) does is attend countless meetings. On some days, there are multiple consecutive meetings. Many of these meetings provide desserts for those in attendance, which means that SU executives could easily pack on the pounds if they are not careful with their eating habits. As much as possible, I am trying to move away from sit-down meetings. Instead, I opt for taking walks with students and faculty where we discuss issues. For those that are up to it, I am starting to do “run” meetings. Overall, I feel that the active meetings are so much more productive than the sedentary ones. I have trouble seeing how sitting down for hours on end is conducive to learning.

On this note, if you want to know more about the Students’ Union and are up to doing something active, I would be more than happy to go for a run or play a sport with you. About two to three times per week, I take morning and evening runs with involved students looking to learn more about the SU. This active lifestyle is starting to become a habit, and I encourage anyone interested to take me up on the offer. Feel free to contact me at if you feel like taking a run.

Lastly, while reading through a recent fall edition of “Outside Magazine,” I was struck by an article ranking the most progressive and active businesses in the United States. One of them, the well-known Clif Bar and Company (the producer of the energy foods), organizes an annual “Corporate Challenge,” where Clif challenges local companies to accumulate the most running and cycling kilometers over a set period of time, with the winning team earning a $30,000 cheque for the charity of their choice. I am looking to do something similar within the Students’ Union, where we challenge local organizations to be as active as possible. This would be an extension of the current SU Corporate Team, which gets together about twice per month to play soccer and any other sports that students select.

Overall, one of my big goals this year is to push students to be more active than they thought they could be. This goes for the SU executive, student staff and all students on campus. Indeed, Fall Reading Week, academic sustainability and undergraduate research are all major goals for me this year; however, motivating students to lead a more active lifestyle is just as important.