Ever heard of the term ‘Freshman 15’? The lore goes that any freshman will gain at least 15 pounds during their first year in college. That pretty much tells the challenge of being healthy during your college life, especially after we are taking for granted our parents’ carefully-constructed and thoughtfully-exercised healthy diet. In between hanging out with friends, having a fully packed social calendar, and the buzz in registering for all new classes, college will seem to pass in a flash. There is no questioning that all of these activities make for a big lifestyle change, especially in our eating and exercising habits. We will drink more often, eat junk food more than we are proud to admit and working out less especially during the first year of college years. However, rest assured that the Freshman 15 is not inevitable. In this article, I would like to share with you the tips and tricks of staying healthy in your college years.
1. Discipline Thyself
The challenging part about being healthy is that it demands consistency. One major factor why so many students are struggling to keep their shape is that they are flip-flopping their habits from trying to eat healthy from home-cooked meals a couple days and let loose partying and drinking on another. Another obstacle in disciplining oneself is the accumulation of stress from studying, which can lead to weight gain. The best solution to keep all these factors from spiralling out of control is to make a simple schedule and follow it diligently. You can start by eating healthy breakfast every morning, make a workout schedule that can be flexible with your current class timeline, create a study plan to prevent all-nighters before an exam and plan for outings on the weekends.
2. Just Keep Walking
One of the most effective exercise yet affordable exercise in college is by walking as much as you could. College campuses are designed so that students are able to walk from home to their classes and back home again. Some may argue that bikes are better because you can reach greater distance, but walking allows you to get more muscle exercise because it takes longer duration. Additionally, forming a habit of walking helps keeping your metabolism running and as a result, you will become more alert throughout the day. Thus, there are added benefits from this simple exercise.
3. Utilize Your Privilege
Another great reason for being in college nowadays is because they are committed in facilitating students with up to date recreational center. Since recreational center are intended for student use, they are generally inexpensive, in close proximity to student housing, and a great place to go when you need a break in between classes. The gym can also be a good place to clear your head, break a sweat and have some much needed personal time you might not have as often in college. Many college recreational centers offer various group fitness and activities classes where you can find a community that share your passion, express your personality and even an opportunity to try something new.
4. Be the Team Player
In high school, you may have played sports, been on a dance team, or been involved in some kind of activity that kept you moving most days of the week. But unless you are on a collegiate sports team, your constant source of activity may not be a part of your regular schedule anymore. If you are the kind of person who likes exercising with a team, it is easy to find a way to incorporate this into your college lifestyle. You just need to sign up for an intramural team or register for a physical education class. I personally joined a basketball team that played competitively and have a regular training session. During my college years, I have also registered for golf and tennis classes for two semesters each. Not only that these classes taught me to be a better player in both sports, but it also instil the habit for regular weekly exercise that I still follow through presently.
5. Ration the Alcohol
So you are in college and you know that there will probably be frat party almost every weekend. Being able to socialize does not translate to overdoing it on the booze. While I do not mean that you should not have fun, you should know the drinks that you are consuming and how much you are gulping down that night. In any case, excessive alcohol intake can lead to a hangover the next day and it takes a heavy toll on your brain when it is still in these developmental years. So keep your wits about you and know your limit. (P.S: Do not drink and drive. It is highly recommended to bring a friend that can accompany you home should you feel that you are incapable of driving)
There you have it! I must admit that college is a busy time, so it is crucial that you get enough sleep, stay active, make healthy food choices and de-stress when you’re under pressure. Being healthy in such stressful conditions may be tough, but once you discipline yourself, you will feel much benefits from it. Furthermore, these tips are meant to be suggestions, not the basis for a rigid schedule. College only comes around once, so live it up!
Photo is taken to the courtesy of Health Alliance Blog