Health plays a huge role in a student’s overall well-being and lifestyle. To live a good life, good health habits–physical, mental, and emotional–should be obtained since general health dictates what an individual can do.
There are so many causes in college students’ lifestyles that can significantly affect their health. Diet and nutrition help them in multiple ways. Consuming the appropriate amount of nutrients is crucial for their bodies to be properly working.
When they go through the rigors of college life, their diets begin to deteriorate, and they gain or shed extra pounds. They tend to skip meals, improper weight management, and food intake usually become intermittent or disorganized because of their tight and erratic schedules.
In a study, thousands of college students at 66 schools were interviewed, and 36 percent were classified as “food insecure” on their campuses, meaning they did not get enough to eat. Not getting enough to eat in this context means these students couldn’t afford to buy healthy food. These statistics have been supported by similar studies.
- What is a Healthy Lifestyle?
- Why is is Important to Eat Healthy?
- Common Reasons Why Students Don’t Exercise
- Healthy vs. Unhealthy College Students
- Basic Health Tips for Top Physical Health in College
What is a Healthy Lifestyle?
What does a healthy lifestyle mean for a typical college student like you? Healthy living is what it literally is! Healthy living means to live a life free from unhealthy foods, drinks, or behaviors.
Of course, at university you can’t afford to avoid junk food and some alcohol, as they will always be a part of your university experience in general. These things are understandably acceptable on several occasions. But as what they always say, portion is the key! Among the cornerstones of healthy living are exercise, eating healthy food, drinking less alcohol, stopping smoking, etc.
Why is is Important to Eat Healthy?
Aside from the fact that eating healthy will protect you from illnesses and ailments, it’s more significantly beneficial to how you will perform in your academics too. The ability to learn is enhanced when students are well-nourished, and eating healthy meals has been shown to result in higher grades, better memory, and faster information processing. This can be attributed to fiber-rich, protein-packed, and healthy fat-containing foods like apples, yogurt, oatmeal, and eggs. They will make you feel full for a long time, while providing you enough energy to stay focused and energized for the whole day.
Common Reasons Why Students Don’t Exercise
Some students find exercising a mundane task. The repetitive workout every day, especially when they do it alone, makes it appear tiring. Unfortunately, they fail to get creative when it comes to injecting physical fitness into their routine. To keep things interesting, students are advised to pick activities they love doing and perhaps invite their friends to do it together.
Other students may have the heart to perform a fitness workout but can’t find the time. There are surefire ways to accomplish this without disrupting your schedule. Things such as walking more and driving less, working part-time on weekends, or waking up a bit early to do a 30-minute workout it’s just a matter of improvising to make it work.
On the other hand, some of these learners are in the company of not so healthy individuals. They hang out with friends who smoke, drink too much, or other similar unhealthy habits. At times peer pressure can be the root cause of diverting from living a quality life. Thus, students should be emotionally stable to avoid getting mixed up with these crowds. When they have the proper emotional state, they are aware of the kinds of people they socialize with and hopefully be influenced to do more desirable hobbies such as engaging in sports or getting fit.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy College Students
Despite stressing the importance of physical fitness on general health, only about 41% of the student body considered their health is in tip-top shape. Since most of these students live their own lives for the first time, they struggle to keep things in order and combat the new health risks surrounding them. Some of the usual factors are living in dorms or flats with other classmates, getting lonely because they’re far from home, academic pressure, and exposure to drugs and alcohol.
With all these overwhelming factors, some students cope the only way they know-how, such as overeating. Eating disorders and being overweight are prevalent in college students. Studies showed that about 38% of college students belong to the overweight category. Hence, every school implements its comprehensive strategies to promote physical health on the campus. They have all sorts of programs designed to address individual-level elements like motivation, time, or skill.
Basic Health Tips for Top Physical Health in College
Monitor your calories when drinking beverages.
It’s very easy for college students to drown in energy drinks and frappuccinos during exam preps. Even on weekends where everyone is having fun at parties, nobody cares how many bottles of beers or glasses of wine they’ve consumed. Keeping this reckless attitude will surely speed up the most-hated freshman 15. However, there are many ways to enjoy and drink up their calories without gaining too much weight.
According to several studies, a tall cup of black coffee or espresso with no added sugar can increase a person’s metabolism and improve brain function. However, when a 300ml of full-fat milk, whole cream, or just any other milk is added to that innocuous morning cup of caffeine, it can cause extra notches to someone else’s belly size. Coffee alone will not get someone fat. It has zero calories and can be drunk the entire day without having effects on their waistline.
The proverbial quote about alcohol can make you fat is not always true. First-year students or any college graduate shouldn’t be drowning in alcohol. Unfortunately, this is too hard to follow, especially on weekends and spring breaks. According to health experts, red wine, when consumed moderately, is good for the heart. Certain antioxidants are found in red wine that protects against coronary artery illness, the common cause of heart attack.
Hard liquor like rum, tequila, and whiskey may have calories, but it takes much longer to produce beer belly. This may sound encouraging, but every student should be aware of too much drinking and partying ramifications. Anything done excessively, whether consuming alcohol or coffee, will cause weight gain and serious illnesses. As responsible adults, one should know how to control themselves from gulping down these liquids.
Squeeze in a quick workout.
With all the homework, classes, exams, and friends, college students struggle to find time to sleep, let alone go to the gym. But getting physical is necessary to maintain good health and wellness. Engaging in a regular exercise routine is a good diversion from busy coursework and staying fit all at once. Furthermore, students can ease up their stress level by performing a quick workout.
Their workout regimen doesn’t have to be as hardcore as adults do in fitness gyms. And they don’t have to enroll in costly memberships since there are other means to stay active in school. Daily biking or walking for 30 minutes can significantly impact their health and lose the calories they’ve consumed. If they still don’t have time to engage in biking activity, they can walk to class and use the stairs instead of riding the lift. Some students take longer routes like going to classrooms, the library, auditorium, or the cafeteria. This is a creative way of inserting physical activity into their routine.
Even with enough time, but they don’t have the budget to go to fitness classes, they can always watch video exercises online and follow them at home or in the dorm. Most fitness gurus and even celebrities post their quick workout video tutorials for the public to follow. These are all effective when done regularly, and perhaps they can even do it as a group.
According to the CDC recommendation, a healthy adult should take about 150 minutes of exercise every week to stay fit. It can be broken down into chunks, 30 minutes each day for five days a week or whatever suits their timetable. If their schedule permits, jogging and swimming with friends on weekends are terrific ideas.
To make your workout more enjoyable, download the following apps and let it support your workout journey. Whatever your personal goal is, there will be an exercise program suitable for you!
Never before has getting toned been so easy. Probably you’ve heard of “the 7-minute workout.” With Seven, you do a variety of high-intensity exercises at a rapid pace with little to no equipment. There’s no excuse not to try these workouts. It’s possible to fit them in between longer sessions and you can do it anywhere.
It’s not just the shoes that make Nike stand out, it’s also the 100% free workout app. With its 185 free workouts, this app can be your personal trainer minus the added expense. The app offers daily recommendations based on your workout history, and these picks become more personalized as you log more workouts.
Rather than going to the gym and enduring group fitness classes, you can work out at home with this app. Fitness programs tailored to your level and goals can be chosen from thousands of different workout options on the site.
Eat nutritious food.
The diet that students follow can have a considerable impact on their brain and body function. Usually, these individuals resort to stress eating, especially when their exams are coming up or project deadlines are fast approaching. They either binge on junk foods or consume too much sugar to alleviate the pressures of college life. Unfortunately, these typical scenarios give them short-term remedies and a few extra pounds. Health experts vehemently emphasize that students must follow nutrient-dense diets to keep their bodies productive, responsive and prevent them from getting sick. Good nutrition has a domino effect on students and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Eating healthy doesn’t need a dramatic lifestyle change. Students can begin with substituting the too sweet and too salty foods into veggies, fruits, or no-bake oatmeal bars. There are several healthy substitutes to those junk foods and chocolate bars, and they don’t have to be expensive. There are quick-to-do recipes that only require basic kitchen ingredients like avocado, egg, and salt; place it in the oven for several minutes, and they have a tasty eggocado snack! Fast, simple, and cheap, a recipe like this is much healthier than downing two pancakes with overloaded cream and syrup on top.
Start by browsing online for easy-to-do weeknight meals and healthy snack substitutes, list all the ingredients before heading to the grocery. Even if they stay in dormitories, where a buffet table is available, surely the chef prepares healthy options for those students who have already been following specific diets. This is the best time to gradually change their food choices and start by picking yogurt, pita bread, and roasted tomatoes instead of the usual ice cream, fries, and sliced bread.
Find time to do personal pursuits.
Even if college appears like a full-time job, this doesn’t mean students can’t find time to pursue their passion. Like other busy professionals, some try to balance their work and personal stuff since this is the best form of maintaining positivity in their lives. Being physically fit is correlated with emotional and mental health. Regardless if it is reading a book, writing a short story, or engaging in outdoor activities, students shouldn’t deprive themselves of doing such things if this makes them happy.
There are different ways of keeping up with academic responsibilities while giving room for their hobbies. If they love to read or write, they can use up at least an hour or two. This won’t hurt their daily schedule that much. Normally, the best time to do this is after their day ends, and they want to relax after keeping up with their demanding professors.
On the other hand, the adventurous ones would prefer something exhilarating such as engaging in outdoor activities. When the warm season begins, so is the opportunity to do exciting events like swimming, hiking, trekking, or even fruit picking. Many students may think these hobbies can be pretty high maintenance, but it’s not. They can go hiking or go on a weekend road trip in groups, chip in money for food, petrol, and other essentials. Besides, they can improvise and discover new ways to survive in the woods. This is part of the adventure, after all. Outdoor activities will keep them away from the toxic environment at school for a while, begin to reconnect with their passion, and shed a few pounds as they trek, hike, and swim in between their trails.
Try to engage in new hobbies that are totally out of your comfort zone. Here are some that you might want to consider:
Take dance lessons at a local studio. Dancing is a form of exercise and exercise relieves stress brought on by studying, and it will help you to focus better. You can check out the clubs available in your school as some university offers dance lessons such as the tango, the rumbas, or other kinds of dance.
A rewarding hobby is working a few hours a week helping others. The place where you volunteer can vary each month, or you can choose to volunteer at the same location regularly. Volunteers are always needed for organizations such as food banks and animal shelters.
Get out of your comfort zone and explore other places. There are many off-campus activities to choose from, including visiting a local park or museum, or traveling out of state. It’s exciting to experience new things wherever you go. By traveling, you will gain an understanding of the world beyond your campus.
Every student is aware of how college life can be draining–physically and mentally. The only way to keep them both healthy is to learn how to balance relevant activities such as practicing self-care. No matter how hard they train or exercise, if their minds are always elsewhere, they will only have unfavorable outcomes like getting ill or depressed. Hence, they must engage in meditation activities.
There are all sorts of de-stressing techniques, and one of such is yoga. Several individuals, students, and professionals try to learn how many physical and mental health benefits. But they don’t have to enroll in yoga classes to avoid paying expensive fees. Like home workout video tutorials online, yogis also post yoga sessions for viewers to follow and apply them at home. They can try to do it in their dorms for a couple of minutes, perhaps before going to class or even during long gaps in between their classes.
If they feel like yoga is not for them, other mind-and-body exercises can try, such as pilates, tai chi, qigong, dance, or martial arts. For newbies, they can ask other friends to come along and figure out together how to do it while having their moral support at the same time.
Studies have been conducted that engaging in these mind-and-body events can improve one’s physical and psychological health. Like in most workout routines, these will be effective when done religiously. Although the physical benefits may not be easily seen since losing weight and improving flexibility takes time, students can already notice the difference in their emotional state after the session. Generally, these exercises alleviate stress, provide relaxation, and improve core strength.
Get eight hours of sleep.
As a general rule, individuals have to sleep for eight hours. Unfortunately, college students hardly reach such a requirement. Most of them only have an average of six hours due to their tight schedule.
It is inevitable that exams, projects, and classes will surely fill their time but to ensure they still get sufficient sleep observing proper time management will do the trick. They must set a specific time to be in bed to adjust their schedule and create an efficient timetable for the day. Everything school-related should be prioritized, but by making a hierarchy of the deadlines, they can determine which one’s the most urgent.
The key to staying fit is to have nights of ample sleep. Whether it is for group study or exam prep, the all-nighters can be avoided by following the mentioned effective time management approach. According to research, insufficient sleep can also lead to terrible physical issues such as obesity, heart problems, and mood. When a person lacks sleep, the respective hormones for keeping them hungry and making them full are all affected. Hence, they get very hungry and eat too much.
For others, sleep naturally comes even if they’ve downed several cups of coffee a few hours before bed. They are drowsy if it’s already past their bedtime since they’re too accustomed to their regular sleeping pattern. Students who cannot do such a thing can try other ways to go to bed on time by forcing themselves to follow a certain sleeping schedule. This may take time, but it has been a proven and effective approach.
Furthermore, students can adjust their room by getting rid of bright lights from TV or PC. When they switch off all lights, it signals the brain to shut off and indicates time to rest. If they have roommates, they can use an eye mask to avoid seeing anything bright. Eating moderate or small meals a few hours before bed can also help improve sleeping habits. Also, health experts have identified too much eating before they sleep causes weight gain.
It may sound too far fetched but making friends at school is one of the best things to do in college. Getting familiar with the community and being around people who share issues, passion, and interests are excellent approaches to surviving college life. These same individuals will also be the ones who can influence them to pursue events like staying fit together. Furthermore, it maintains each other’s mental well-being. Perhaps they can start by grabbing lunch, walking to class together, doing grocery shopping on weekends, or heading to the cinema. Whatever they do, it is always beneficial to do it with someone else.
For students who have come from afar, they look forward to these things. The loneliness and pressures of being in a new place can take a toll. Once they’re emotionally drained, their physical and mental health get affected too. Social connections help lower the harmful effects of stress and develop a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Individuals who share connections with others are less anxious and have a low tendency to get depressed. They also possess higher self-esteem, empathic, cooperative, and more trusting.
Aside from friends, the constants in their life that they can turn to when they need emotional support is family. Regardless of where they are, touching base with their parents or siblings once in a while can make a huge difference emotionally. If they feel down and get overwhelmed by academic stuff, they can quickly call their loved ones. These people may also have gone through what they’re experiencing. Their advice can come in handy. With the technology these days, communicating with someone anytime, anywhere is possible.
In the case of students who have family nearby but living somewhere else, they can visit their parents on weekends. Even during public holidays or semestral breaks, they can go back home. These are terrific means of staying connected and keeping their emotional state in check.
Avoid getting sick.
Nobody wants to get ill. One can catch a cold from someone already sick between staying in the dormitories and eating in cafeterias filled with fellow college students. Continuous coughing, intermittent sneezing, and on-and-off fever may not seem to be too alarming. Still, it can physically drain someone even when just sitting in class or disturbing when taking tests. Eating healthy and regular exercise are not sufficient to maintain a good immune system.
Staying hydrated all the time is essential and not just during warm weather. Drinking the required amount of fluids, about 3 liters a day, will effectively flush toxins. Some students find this challenging, but engaging in physical activities will make them thirsty. Aside from hydrating, regular washing of hands will eliminate viruses and other undesirable elements. During this unprecedented time, health authorities strongly emphasize that health authorities frequently wash their hands and avoid touching their nose, eyes, or mouth. If the sink or toilet is inaccessible, they can use sanitizing wipes or liquids. These days, everyone carries alcohol or anything similar everywhere they go.
When friends or roommates show signs of flu, it is wise not to get too close to them. This is not being rude, but this prevents the spread of disease. Sharing drinks, utensils, and even staying in the same room is not advisable. Their sick friends will completely understand if their roommates will move out for a while and stay somewhere else until they get better.
On the other hand, when the student is still sick even after self-medication, it is strongly advisable to seek the doctor’s help. One should know when to consult a physician to avoid complications and get the right treatment. Despite the busy schedules, every professor will understand if the learner will not make it to their exams or pass the projects on time due to health reasons.
Eat snacks every now and then.
Eating small snacks in between classes is healthy. But the keyword is small or mini-meals, which can be done in three or four hours, so they don’t have to eat one huge meal at once. It helps students feel full as they power through the rest of the day.
The main act of eating improves a person’s ability to burn the calories in their body while it is at rest or the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This means the more mini-meals they eat. The BMR gets higher too. Consuming mini snacks lowers their insulin and cholesterol levels, leading to loss of weight.
The most challenging part of this approach for college students is picking healthy snacks accessible to them. Most of them will resort to vending machines, which are the most convenient and present in every school corner. To avoid this, they can stock up healthy snacks and bring some to last for the day. There are several healthy and cheap foods they can get and don’t require reheating. Health bars, nuts, dried fruit, and granola bars are good alternatives to chips and high-calorie energy bars that most of their classmates have. Or, if they have enough time before heading to school, making a healthy sandwich is also a good alternative. They can cut it into two or three parts and eat them in between lectures. The goal here is to consume in small amounts to keep them full and avoid bingeing.
Downing their snacks with water instead of soda or sugar-filled juice is another healthy substitute that will prevent them from getting hungry. These drinks may keep them active, but it can cost them their immune system later on.
Join sports activities.
Every college student, especially the seniors, will highly recommend joining a sports club. There are several of them like intramurals, organizations, and recreational sports teams. Some may think that they have to be in the varsity to play football, basketball, or swimming in school, let alone use the facilities. One can participate in activities since school administrators have lined up sports events for all students, regardless if they’re student-athletes or not.
There are hardcore fans of the sport but don’t want to be entangled with varsity clubs’ demanding schedule. These students can join practices, which some may have to pay for a couple of dollars. On the other hand, some clubs are very willing to accommodate these students since they can act as sparring partners or practice players.
Sports facilities in the school are not exclusively for student-athletes. Sports clubs can use them during special activities like inter-collegiate or by-division competitions. Players of these clubs are welcome to use all the equipment, gym, and other amenities. Being part of a club means having regular practices like a regulated workout in a fitness gym minus the membership fee.
Engaging in sports activities is already a proven and tested method of maintaining physical health and preventing illnesses. It is a key reason why schools conduct sports events for their students. Not being familiar with the sport is not an excuse to stop them from joining such activities. To help overcome their apprehensions, join the intramurals together. Moreover, they can challenge themselves and set a bit of motivation, such as winning every game or reaching the finals.