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Almost everyone has heard the phrase “Freshman 15”. And I’ll admit that although I didn’t fall prey to the full 15 pounds, I definitely found myself up in weight and down in energy as I started the next chapter of my life in college.
So why is it that the new kids on campus often pack on weight? Many experts attribute this to the overconsumption of drinks, the abundance of food choices in the cafeteria, lack of sleep, and a high level of stress.
None of this sounds very healthy.
So what can a student do to avoid gaining the Freshman 15, and stay healthy in all aspects of their life, even when they’re on a tight budget?
How to Stay Healthy in College
1. Make use of your school’s gym.
Included in my university’s tuition was our brand new, multi-level gym. It had classes daily, was open early and late to accommodate a student’s hectic schedule, and it was within walking distance of my dorm.
Honestly, it’s one of the nicest gyms I’ve ever been to. But many students never even walked through its doors. If you’re already paying for your school’s facilities, use them!
2. Take a fitness class for credit.
Another option for staying in shape in college is to take a fitness class for credit. At my school, some of our options were biking, walking, running, and tons of dance classes. I chose yoga.
Yoga 101 may have only been a 1-credit course, but it got me out of bed every Tuesday and Thursday before 9 am my last semester of college, and best of all, I didn’t have to buy any books or pay any studio membership fees – just $10 for a yoga mat. I highly suggest finding out if your school also offers fitness classes for credit.
3. Drink lots of water.
Whether you’re socializing with friends, caffeinating to stay up studying, or just love the taste of soda, most beverages are full of empty calories and cost you money. Drinking water is essential to your health and even better, it’s free! Instead of paying for bottled water, save yourself some cash and carry around a reusable bottle wherever you go.
4. Don’t neglect your hygiene.
Getting a filling is not cheap. Instead, take good care of your oral hygiene to avoid major work and a huge bill from the dentist. Create a habit of brushing your teeth morning and night, even if the two seem to be running together with all your studying. Bonus points for flossing!
My favorite toothpaste is Tom’s of Maine® Luminous White™ Toothpaste Clean Mint because it’s sourced from natural ingredients, made with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and is still super affordable. I purchased mine at Stop & Shop on sale. Tom’s of Maine® even gives 10% of profits to human and environmental goodness!
5. Take advantage of your student health center.
Another service your tuition gives you access to is your school’s student health center. Make sure to get your yearly flu shots, an annual physical, labs, and if you’re planning to study or travel abroad, vaccinations and travel center consultations! Health insurance can be costly after you graduate, so don’t let this benefit go to waste.
6. Keep healthy snacks on hand.
When you’re rushing between classes, you may not always have time to sit down and enjoy your lunch. Instead of grabbing a candy bar from the vending machine, some good snack options include Homemade Trail Mix, a yogurt that’s low in sugar, or for the best and cheapest option, fresh fruit like an apple or banana!
7. Avoid eating out.
If you’re already paying for a meal plan, why waste your money on eating out? Fast food may seem like a good idea, but it’s rarely very healthy. If you’re living off-campus, get in the habit of cooking for yourself. Some of my favorite easy meals ideas that are healthy and affordable include Overnight Oats, Whole Wheat Pita Pizzas, and Cheeseburger Salad.
8. Take a wellness class.
Most of the tips above focus on physical health, but there are many other areas of living well. My last semester of college, I took Intro to Wellness. My favorite topic in class was the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. It, of course, included physical wellness, but along with that, we learned about spiritual, intellectual, occupational, environmental, social, and emotional wellness. I wish I would have taken this course earlier! I was taught so many practical tips that would have helped me stay healthy while in college.
College can be tough. Some days it may feel like you have no time, no energy, and no money. But if you start creating good habits now, you’ll be set for life. Start with something simple – like making sure to brush your teeth daily (I love Tom’s of Maine®!) or even just making water your drink of choice. You’ll be well on your way to living a healthy life.
What are your best tips for staying healthy in college?
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