The infamous freshman 15—we’ve all heard about it, many of us have experienced it, and some of us are dreading it. When I was in college I managed to gain and lose 20 to 30 pounds over the course of a grueling four year degree. More important though, than gaining some weight during your freshman year of college, is what this strange phenomenon (based in fact or not) suggests. College is a transitioning period in a young adult’s life. You’re thrust into an unfamiliar world with unfamiliar people and told to pick the subject that will supposedly determine the rest of your life. Okay, while this isn’t exactly what college is all about, it can certainly feel this way at times. On top of high levels of stress and uncertainty, college students are faced with more freedom than many of them can control, terrible sleeping habits, unhealthy food options, and an opportunity for total laziness beyond academics. That being said, there are many ways that students can stay healthy and fit during their college experience. Not only does a fit and healthy body make you feel better, it also improves the health and function of your mind—consider these college health pointers.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
College is prime time for late night binge eating, alcohol consumption, and junk food hoarding. With door rooms equipped with mini fridges and late night study sessions, many college students find themselves up at 2 in the morning eating a pint of ice cream and a latte over their English 101 term paper. It can be so easy to eat poorly in college and never really think about it. But, of course, the food we ingest plays a huge role in how healthy we are. Our health affects the way our minds function, our stamina throughout the day, and our ability to focus on the task at hand. Today, more and more colleges are becoming mindful of their student populations’ eating habits. Schools are working to provide late night options that are healthier on campus and are making efforts to diversify their dining hall selection. Take advantage of the healthy options your school provides you. Also, consider utilizing your resident hall kitchen from time to time. Nothing is better than a home cooked meal. Try going to the store on occasions and buying elements for a home cooked meal for yourself. Eating well-rounded and balanced meals is essential to staying healthy and fit.
Think Whole Health
Staying healthy and fit means much more than just keeping your weight stable and looking in-shape. It’s essential that you think of health as “whole health” rather than simply physical health when you’re away at school. Your ability to exercise and look healthy depends greatly on your ability to maintain mental health as well. Pay attention to your sleeping habits. No doubt, there are going to be days that you have to pull the dreaded all-nighter to finish a project or essay, but this shouldn’t be happening all the time. Rest is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle—poor sleeping habits can even cause individuals to gain weight. Find ways to balance your life out so that you are both mentally and physically stable. College is a challenging time—be sure you are paying attention to both your physical and psychological wellbeing.
Exercise a Fun Way
Staying active on a college campus is usually not such a tough thing to do. Most schools have open use gyms, tracks, and other sports facilities that students can use freely. However, with busy schedules finding the time and motivation to stay active and get in a regular workout can be tricky. Find ways to make your workouts more enticing. Look into playing intramural sports like soccer, volleyball, flag football, ultimate frisbee, and whatever else catches your eye. These groups can be great ways to stay active while also interacting with classmates and building new relationships. Another great way to stay active and healthy in college is to take fun and interesting PE electives. Many colleges require at least a few hours of PE to graduate and most offer some very interesting classes. Because these PE classes require attendance and come with a grade, you won’t be able to talk yourself out of working out each day.