IMG_1372.jpg

Running through the sticky air of Manoa Valley, feeling the cool breeze on her skin, sweat dripping out of every pore; this is Lila Rice’s positive space. For Rice, trail running was an escape from the monotony of daily life. Aside from running outdoors, she often worked out at the Warrior Rec Center whenever possible as well. This was her daily routine for much of the year. 

But her daily life as she knew it came to a halt.

With the reinforcement of a stay-at-home order in response to the rising COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu, the population of Hawaiʻi is once again constrained to their homes. 

“Before the shutdown I was going to the rec center at least four times a week and running trails almost everyday,” the incoming sophomore said. “Now that at least solo hiking is permitted, I hardly even have the energy to make myself go on one.” 

The shutdown interferes with students' physical health in many different ways. Not only affecting their exercise regimens, but disrupting their sleep patterns as well.

“Before quarantine, my sleep schedule was perfect. I’d wake up, eat breakfast, go to class and be tired in the evening. Now I’m sitting around so much, not releasing enough energy that I’m hardly even tired at night.”

Monica Esquivel, the UH Dietetics Program Director, notices the health implications of quarantine, which vary from student to student, as well.

From a diet standpoint she sees two extremes: students who mindlessly eat out of boredom and other students using this time to try new recipes and clean up their diet. She sees this time as an opportunity for students who always wanted to prepare their own food and meal prep but never had the time to until now. 

Esquivel recalled her students going around the room discussing the perks of their new lifestyle. Most of her students reported getting more sleep than they used to since they no longer have to wake up extra early to commute to class.

She does note that although students may be getting more sleep, the quality of their sleep may be reduced due to the structure of their new daily routine.

Brenda Vincent, Queen’s Medical Center’s Clinical Nutrition Manager, notes while people are eating out less, it’s leading to a counterproductive pattern in going to fast food and delivery service in its substitute.

“To encourage our employees to stay healthy we have implemented a pop-up market in the employee dining room where employees can stop and pick up bags of fresh produce for a low-cost.” Vincent said.

Keeping produce in individual bags for employees to have fresh food without worrying about contamination seems like a practical way to encourage people to eat cleaner.

What Queens Medical Center implemented for their employees is a possible idea that campus food services can use for students to keep them nourished and well. When Lila Rice lived in the dorms during the start of quarantine, she recalled the salad bar got rid of many options leaving mostly packaged and processed food. 

Whether it be eating nutritiously or getting out on the trails for exercise, keeping one’s self strong and healthy is for the benefit of their surrounding communities.

A resource on at-home exercise, nutrition/diet, and managing stress/emotional health can be found here.