GVSU staff promote healthy living

Leah Mitchell

We’ve heard it our whole lives. “If you don’t wash your hands, you’re gonna get sick!” But is this really our only defense to keep healthy during the winter months?

Although washing your hands is undoubtedly important to keeping germ free, there are three simple rules that aren’t as often enforced: Keeping your workspace clean, staying active and getting plenty of sleep can ensure a healthy college career.

According to the National Research Center for Women and Families, the average desktop workspace is said to have had over 400 times the bacteria than the average toilet seat. The NRC has also reported that two deadly drug-resistant types of bacteria — vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — could survive for up to 24 hours on a keyboard, while another common but less deadly bug—Pseudomonas aeruginosa — could survive for an hour at a time.

With 29 running computer labs at Grand Valley State University, housing a total of 1,093 computer keyboards, it’s safe to say that the rooms could quickly turn from computer labs to science labs that culture thousands of bacterial cells.

But GVSU takes this into consideration when implementing a daily disinfecting maintenance process. Each night during second and third shift, there are close to 40 custodians working to disinfect all academic buildings inch by inch.

Janet Aubil, facilities service supervisor at GVSU, is in charge of overseeing the night shift custodial staff and making sure that these duties are handled.

“Our goal is to provide good customer service and to meet the needs of each particular area,” Aubil said. “We want the area to look good for the students and staff that work here.”

GVSU uses a special 3M product to clean keyboards and desktop surfaces each night. Because the university has such a large influx of students every day, the daily workload the custodial staff has to handle is quite large, especially when winter comes around.

“With so many people all the time, there are always going to be germs,” Aubil said. “The staff is directed to do a nightly wipe down which keeps us ahead of the game in the long run.”

Although the GVSU custodial staff may take care of the university workspace, ultimately each student is responsible for keeping their body healthy.

GVSU’s Health and Wellness Center, located in the bottom of the Fieldhouse, offers many free services that evaluate the physical standing of each student or faculty member. A health risk assessment, which asks questions to test eating habits, sleeping, stress levels and other categories, is one service the center offers. Overall body fat measurement tests are also offered for free, and cholesterol and glucose level tests can be requested for a small fee.

“We never have a goal of making money,” said Dustin Mier, who works at campus recreation. “Anything we charge we are charging only to off-set the cost of the material or investment made in the service or product.”

According to the National Institute of Health, chronic exercise is proven to reduce the effects of illness and keep the common cold away. Within one particular study, regular exercise resulted in reduced symptoms and virus load. Smaller amounts of exercise also showed some health benefit, but in the end, this was limited to the early phase of infection.

Finally, ensuring that the body gets adequate sleep time can increase health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine writes that adults should strive to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Because college students have a tendency to sleep in later on the weekends, this can actually disturb sleeping patterns even more and make it even harder to feel awake come Monday morning.

Students who pull all-nighters are more likely to have a lower GPA and are even more susceptible to developing mental health illnesses. Research has shown that after two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours.

Taking care of the body and taking the precautions needed to stay healthy throughout the year have a large influence over an extended period of time.

For more information on the programs offered by the GVSU Health and Wellness office, visit www.gvsu.edu/healthwellness.

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