Sometimes in the midst of various classes, studying, homework, parenting, work, meetings and maintaining a healthy social life, a college student has little time to focus on their own health. Though some students do not consider healthy habits of the utmost importance, developing those habits makes it easier to stay healthy throughout their lives. Here are some tips for college students to stay healthy and well adjusted. Remember, a healthy body brings about a healthy mind!
1. Proper Eating
I am the last person to really point fingers with this one, as I enjoy a good burger more than just about anything else in the world. The only thing is that I try to keep my bad eating to a one day weekend thing. Maintaining a healthy diet can help boost a person’s immune systems, help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your health in general. Sometimes it seems impossible to eat healthy in college when you cannot find the time to prep a good meal, or can’t afford the healthier stuff, but there are easy ways to make adjustments in your eating habits. First, you must always eat breakfast. This may be tough when you’re rushing out the door to get to that 8:00AM class, but grabbing a granola bar, apple or banana goes a long way in keeping you from overeating throughout the day. Also, it is not good to skip meals; it won’t get you that beach body you crave! I know it may be difficult to pull this off when your classes are at odd times, but bring something with you if need be. For those late-night cravings, try healthy version to your favorites, like a veggie pizza on wheat bread, veggie or turkey burger, or frozen yogurt. Snacking is another way to keep your appetite satiated throughout the day. Snacking can stop binge or comfort eating. Keep things like fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, pita bread or string cheese on hand so you aren’t tempted to grab some chips or greasy snacks. If you want to simplify this: moderation, variety and balance. “Try keeping a good balance of dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein every day.”
Fitting exercise into a busy college schedule can be difficult, especially with the price of gym memberships. One of the easiest ways to get exercise is to walk to class. Depending on your class schedule, this could add anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour of exercise every day. Other things you may want to look into is motion sensor gaming. If you have an XBOX 360, PS3, or Wii, you now have the opportunity to whip yourself into shape via gaming. Games like Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, Zumba, Dance Central, Kinect Dance, and various other titles not only provide solid workouts, but some even track calorie burning. Then there is the old fashioned way of doing things: go to the park and play some sports, or jog around your neighborhood for a half hour per day.
Though you may think you need to pull an all-nighter to study for big test or stay out until 4AM partying the night away with your peeps, don’t let this become the norm in your life. Sleep deprivation can lead to reduced brain function, fatigue, headaches and weight loss or gain. College students should have somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep. Doing this can drastically improve overall health. To stay rested throughout the day, try taking a short nap during the day (which can be more difficult for some than others), try to stick to a set schedule, unplug from technology and try to keep your room dark and quiet before bedtime. Also, avoid eating and drinking right before bed. Late night snacking is never a good idea.
4. Wash your hands
Someone is always sick in your school, and washing your hands is essential for college students who can’t afford to miss class because of illness. College students are in constant contact with others: through classes, living situations with roommates, walking around campus, and it is very easy to catch colds or viruses. “Studies have shown that simple hand-washing can help prevent a large number of illnesses.” Also, wash your hands before meals, after using the restroom, any time you will be touching your eyes, nose or mouth, or if you’ve been around others who are sick.
5. Don’t smoke
Everyone has heard the many life-threatening risks smoking poses, and even smoking occasionally can still put you at risk for ailments like lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. For those looking to quit, check out your student health center for programs to assist you. It’s just bad for you… no way around that.
6. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks
I know that is a tough sell for college students, considering the obsession people have with Red Bull, caffeine pills, and other caffeinated beverages. Though caffeinated beverages sodas and coffee can be beneficial when studying or doing late-night homework, a short time after the kick, you crash hard and you could feel bad. If you need an energy boost, try eating high-protein, and/or high-fiber foods.
7. Water, water, water
Staying hydrated can help your concentration and keep you from overeating. It also replenishes your body and gives you more energy throughout the day. Always choose water instead of soda, and bring water with you while you walk to class. Even juice is not the optimal choice here. Also, buy a filter and a “green” water bottle that can be reused. Save money and the environment!
College students are usually pretty stressed with class, work, and life in general, but relaxation is vital to staying healthy. Stress can cause numerous problems and overworking yourself can adversely affect your health. The easiest way to relax is to get organized, create a schedule, stick to it, and plan for breaks throughout the day to unplug and unwind for a few minutes.