Spotlight On: Ethan Pfenninger
What does health mean to you?: Health is a combination of getting exercise, eating well, and making sure I am happy with who I am and what I’m doing.
What do you do to make a Healthy UNH?: I’m a big believer in doing the little things to make people’s day better. This can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, asking a friend about their life, or reaching out to someone who I haven’t seen in a while. I’m a member of the Cycling Club (we prefer team, but hey), and I’ll often lead rides on the weekends to get people out to different areas surrounding Durham. Beyond that I’ll organize Intramural teams to compete, which is always a ton of fun.
How do you stay fit?: I’ve been on the cycling team for the past four years while I’ve been at UNH, and I ran a marathon my sophomore year as a challenge. I spend a lot of time biking, and I’ll break it up with running and swimming. On rainy days I’ll use the UNH gym for plyometrics and other circuits. Besides all of this, I’ll usually end up being on as many Intramural teams as I can.
Do you have any tips for eating healthfully?: As tempting as all the cheeseburgers are at UNH, the dining halls make it really easy to eat well too. All the dining halls have large salad bars, and you can always find a good source of low-fat protein every day too (think grilled chicken and eggs). Having a salad and a good source of protein in every meal is a great way to stay healthy. Taking a quick peek at the nutritional information supplied is also a good idea. Also try and keep a good supply of healthy snacks in your room. Peanuts, pistachios, etc. are filling and healthy and better than chips.
How do you find motivation to stay healthy?: Motivation for me is a mixture of habit, well-placed naps, and a desire to push myself. I’ve been doing it long enough that I don’t feel productive without getting exercise. A quick thirty minute nap before exercising has a lot of performance and focus benefits, but it also gives you the energy to get off the couch. Beyond that, just seeing if I can run a little longer or bike a little faster keeps me motivated. A cool app called Strava allows you to compare your run/bike against others, which can make for some nice competition.
Have you made any tangible improvements to your physical or mental well-being by making positive changes in your life?: A big change I’ve made this year is making sure I get a quick nap in during the middle of my day and changing what snack items I keep in my room. The nap means that I’m not falling asleep in class, and that I am far more motivated for exercising. I’ve also always had a huge sweet tooth, but by substituting the gummy bears for pistachios and peanuts, I’ve been feeling better than ever.
Anything else you would like to add?: Join a club or do intramurals! Beyond cycling (which is awesome, open to people of all skill levels, and full of great people) there are tons of clubs devoted to sports. Find one that looks like fun and give it a try. Intramurals are also a blast, Inner-tube water polo is a workout in itself. I haven’t done any of exercise classes they lead in the Whitt (stay tuned) but I’ve heard they are great and a good workout.