College tips for student health and staying in shape

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh veggies are important components of a healthy diet!

How to be healthy in college? That’s a big question. With the dreaded “Freshman 15” weight gain looming, college may not evoke a place of healthy eating and exercise, what with the pizza, late parties and extensive napping. But some very common sense tips for college life can help you stay in shape and maintain student health while you’re juggling classes, a part-time job and a social life.

Exercise tips

Exercise: make a plan and do it. Map out a fitness schedule each day or a few days a week for some vigorous exercise to give your body and mind a good workout. “Students should examine their fall semester course load and determine exactly how and when they will make time for exercise. Will they bring their swim suit to that noon history class and head to the aquatic center afterward? Will they bike to and from the dining halls?” suggests author Laura McMullen in her August 23, 2012 post for U.S. NewsCollege Fitness: 5 Tips for Staying in Shape.”

Other tips for an exercise routine: Jog every morning before class. Lift some weights at the gym in the evening. Many colleges offer a discount at local gyms. “Join an intramural basketball team, or meet up with friends for outdoor activities in your area such as canoeing, skiing, and sand volleyball. If organized sports aren’t your thing, you’d be surprised how quickly a casual game of ‘Keep the Balloon from Touching the Floor’ among roommates can get competitive—and sweaty!” from “Healthy by Accident: Low-Effort Tips for Staying Fit in College,” at CollegeView.com.

Fit some kind of exercise into everyday life. Lots of little exercise adds up. Walk or bike instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Play a game of pick up with some friends on the quad. If you can’t get outside due to weather, in-dorm exercise can be achieved with resistance bands with which you can do lunges, squats and bicep curls.

Healthy eating tips

“Eating a healthy diet can help boost students’ immune systems, help students to maintain a healthy weight and can improve their overall health,” from “10 Tips to Stay Healthy in College,” by Uloop on HuffingtonPost.com, May 8, 2011.

Have breakfast — even if it’s only a banana and a granola bar. Food in your stomach early in the day gives you a boost of energy that carries you through until you have lunch or dinner.

Choose the salad bar more often. A salad full of veggies gives you energy and vitamins. Pizza is great, but not every day. Choose the healthy selections at the cafeteria or takeout. Choose whole grains when possible: whole grain pizza or crackers, brown rice over white rice. Choose skim milk over whole milk and frozen yogurt over ice cream for less saturated fat.

Cut out extraneous eating. Eat only at meal times and cut out a lot of the snacking, because all those calories add up. If you have to snack, munch on raisins and peanuts, an apple, baby carrots or other healthy choices instead of a candy bar, chips or pizza.

Drink water instead of sugary soda and caffeinated beverages. Soda is a leading cause of useless calories, and the boost of energy you get with soda or coffee may give you just a short boost but then you crash afterwards. Water hydrates you more than soda and caffeine and helps you concentrate.

Other healthy tips

  • Get more sleep. Sleep revitalizes the body and improves memory.
  • Stop smoking. That’s a big one that will keep you healthy your whole life.
  • No binge drinking.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Reduce stress. Find ways to relax and avoid the stress that comes with a new schedule, new food and new routine. Meditate, do yoga, watch a movie, take a nap, walk round the campus, call Mom.

What exercise or healthy food tips are keeping you in shape in college?

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