Ask the Professional: Dr. Joel Reece

Written by: 
Mason Cole


The following is taken from an email discussion between Dr. Joel Reece, assistant professor of Exercise and Sport Science at BYU–Hawaii, who explained and reviewed concepts of health and fitness for BYUH students that often go overlooked.

What exercises should college students be doing?

“College students should do the type of exercise they enjoy most. The best exercise is the kind you do. Also, I would strongly recommend strength training for college students, because those are the years when their bones are developing peak bone density.”

What should their diets be like or do they even need to diet?

“Nutrition is a critical component to healthy living. I don't like the word diet because it denotes a temporary change. I think we should strive to eat healthy in a sustainable way. Is it really sustainable to never eat another cookie or scoop of ice cream again in your life? Maybe for the strong willed, but not for me. I would recommend no more than 10-to-15 percent of your total calories in a day come from sweets or junk food. College is a great time to make decisions that will shape your lifestyle for the future. You get to make decisions on what you want to eat at the Cafeteria or what you buy at the store.”

What is the key to staying fit?

“Social accountability– If you can get involved with others who are also trying to be active, it goes a long way. Some faculty and staff meet three times a week for noon ball. We might not be the fittest people around, but just the act of moving up and down the court on a regular basis helps. Participate in intramurals, sign up for an [Exercise and Sport Science]  (EXS) activity class, join educational outreach fitness classes, form a walking group. I frequently go walking with a group of friends just to chat and hang out. We call it our ‘Book Club,’ but we don't read any books. We just walk and talk.”

How long should students exercise?

“The minimum recommendations to see health benefits from exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise.”

When should students weight lift?

“Strength training recommendations are 2-to-3 times per week. You don't have to get too picky with exactly when, but if you want to, I would recommend sandwiching your strength training in between your sandwich. What I mean is eat half of your meal, go lift, and then eat the other half of your meal.”

When should students do cardio?

“Anytime, but be aware of a couple things. If you go first thing in the morning without eating any breakfast, pay attention to how you feel. You may experience hypoglycemia when you are exercising or feel too fatigued to enjoy or push through your workout. Also, I would recommend waiting about 60 minutes after you eat to allow for your insulin levels to normal out... or go exercise within about 10 minutes after eating something light, before your insulin levels have a chance to increase. By doing this you will decrease your chances of having a sugar crash after you start exercising.”

How often should students exercise?

“Exercise should be performed most days of the week and recommended to be accumulated in at least 10-minute bouts.”

How long does it take for someone to see results?

“You can have acute effects of working out, meaning you can feel some of the positive benefits of working out after just one session. Studies that usually evaluate the effects of exercise go for at least eight weeks. After the first four weeks a lot of the strength adaptations seen are because of neurological changes, while the next four weeks are because of actual muscle gains.”

Why is exercise important for college students?

“There are so many benefits to exercise. Many of these benefits are associated with physical health, such as weight control, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, strengthening bones and muscles, sleeping better, and may even reduce the risk of some cancers. But the benefits go far beyond physical health. You can improve your quality of life, mental health, and mood. You can even use exercise as a vehicle to improve your social life. We even recently presented research at a conference showing how physical activity is related to spiritual wellbeing. Enjoy being active. Look around campus to see how to get involved.”


Date Published: 
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, February 6, 2019