College is the perfect time for branching out, trying new things, and making your own rules. It’s not uncommon to want to order take out every other day because it’s fast and easy. But all of those pizza slices and boxes of noodles can add up around the waistline and set a precedent for unhealthy habits. When the stress of classes, exams, and big projects leave you reaching for comfort food and you don’t feel like you have any spare time for exercise, the “Freshman 15” is a sobering reality.
But don’t give up! Once you recognize your problem areas, you can make positive lifestyle changes and get back to your ideal weight. Follow these seven tips for college student health:
- Eat a Real Breakfast - Just because you have an 8am class doesn’t mean you can’t spend a few extra minutes to snack on a breakfast bar, a bowl of cereal, or catch a bite in your dining hall. A frothy coffee beverage might give you a caffeine boost, but the sugar will also leave you crashing.
- Use the Buddy System - Every time you reach for an extra slice, it’s nice to have a friend there who can remind you of your goals. Work together to eat right and even go to the gym on a regular basis!
- Avoid Alcohol - Invites to parties come with the expectation of drinking. Consuming alcohol is not only a personal choice, it’s also a health choice. This is because calories from alcohol can’t be stored. So when you exercise, they are the first calories burned off instead of calories from fat.
- Explore the Campus - Even though you have your go-to fast food favorites and resident dining hall, you might be surprised at what other restaurants and meal options are available within a mile or two of your dorm. Explore and try new things instead of rewarding yourself with a high-calorie favorite!
- Walk or Bike to Class - If you live anywhere on or around campus, you can navigate by walking or biking to ensure daily physical activity. Plus, you might be surprised at the people you meet or secret study places you find!
- Mental Health - College student health isn’t just about staying active and eating right. You also need to take care of your mental and emotional needs. Find a peer support group for studying or an extracurricular group that shares your hobbies..
- Nap - It’s no surprise that between college classes, studying, and socialization, there doesn’t seem to be time to sleep. However, sleep has a large impact on the information you retain, your attitude, and your health. Aim for at least six hours each night and try to fit in an hour nap each day.
The ticket to better college student health lies within these seven tips. If you can maintain eating, exercise, and emotional balance, you’ll maximize your college experience and stay fit!
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