It’s no secret that college is an incredibly stressful time. We have to juggle writing essays and studying for exams with socializing with friends and staying in touch with family. Unfortunately, our health can sometimes get put on the backburner. It’s so much easier to grab a piece of pizza to go at the caf than take the time to make a salad. And who can resist skipping out on a late night Steak ‘n Shake run? Putting on a few extra pounds certainly isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re trying to form some healthier habits, look no further!
A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. “I try my best to stay away from processed foods like pasta and bread,” said junior nursing major Hannah Mahr. “Eat more natural meals that include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meats.”
Mahr also said to allow yourself a designated “cheat day.” If you really can’t live without potato chips, only eat them once a week, and be mindful of the serving size.
Kate Gebultowicz, a junior chemistry major, said, “It’s important to eat homemade meals more often than eating out.” She also advised that you should avoid overeating and to burn more calories exercising than you take in from eating.
“Go to the gym at least three times a week. If you want to stay healthy, you need to be active,” said Gebultowicz. She said that thirty minutes of cardio is essential to get the body warmed up and the metabolism started. It’s also important to weight lift. You have to have a healthy balance if you want to build muscle and lose fat.
It’s best if you can work out in the morning or early afternoon. “When you lift weights, you’re putting a lot of stress on your muscles and they tear. As they work to rebuild themselves, you consistently burn calories throughout the day.”
Mahr also mentioned that lifting weights helps keep bones strong, which really helps as you age. The DISC is a great place to start exercising, because it’s close to campus and students have “free” access to it with their student ID.
However, don’t sweat it if you can’t get to a gym on a regular basis. You can go for a run outdoors and engage in strength exercises that don’t require equipment, like lunges or pushups.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked elements in staying healthy is getting a good night’s sleep. It can be quite difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep in college. There are a number of different obstacles in our way, like studying for an exam or wanting to spend time with friends, but our bodies and our minds will thank us if we make sleep a priority.
Furthermore, too little sleep can cause you to gain weight. “Your metabolism won’t function correctly if you don’t get enough sleep,” said Mahr. “It’s much slower when you are sleep deprived.”
It’s tempting to skip a workout if you’re tired; you’re also more likely to grab an unhealthy, sugary snack. You may be able to fight off the sleepiness throughout the day, but at what cost? Be sure to get between six to eight hours of sleep each night. An occasional all-nighter won’t kill you, just don’t make a habit of it.
Overall, it’s not too difficult to stay healthy in college. Watch what you’re eating and don’t overindulge in unhealthy treats. Add work outs to your weekly schedule and stick to them. Finally, be sure to get enough sleep so that you can avoid any pitfalls and maintain a healthy body and mind. If any of these seem too daunting, find a friend to join you and support each other! It makes things a bit easier and more enjoyable.