As fall comes around and classes begin, it’s important to keep an eye on our health. College can give you the best and worst experiences, which in turn, affect your health (both mental and physical). We’ve all heard of the “freshman 15” along with all the stress classes and being away from home can bring, so a popular question to ask is: How do I stay healthy in college?
Studies show that women in college have a greater risk of certain mental and physical health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, migraines, and thyroid conditions. So, with these risks in mind, let’s consider the question posed above: How do we stay healthy? The common response to this question involves 3 steps:
Eat healthy foods.
Get plenty of rest.
Okay, so that seems easy, right? Well, as many can attest, this plan is easier said than done. So let’s discuss why each step’s importance to help with motivation.
Eating healthy food!
This doesn’t just mean only eating fruits and vegetables. You can still enjoy meat, just vary the way you cook it. Fried foods are very unhealthy for you, so instead try baking, grilling, or steaming foods in order to up the nutrients without sacrificing the foods you love to eat. I know the fried chicken station at the dining halls can seem enticing, but asking for that piece of meat grilled instead can make all the difference for your health.
Drink lots of water! Our bodies are made up of ~60% water and drinking a lot of it will help maintain the balance of bodily fluids in your body. These bodily fluids assist with digestion, absorption, circulation, transportation of nutrients, among other processes. Keeping a constant fluid intake will help maintain these processes, as well as make them more efficient, overall bettering your health.
Cut down on junk food snacking. Notice how I didn’t say cut down on snacking because it’s okay to snack as long as it isn’t constantly junk food. You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you choose a cup of fruit instead of a bag of chips (and you will stay full longer, becoming less likely to want to snack more later on).
Keeping a regular exercise routine
We all know that exercise benefits our physical health, but it also alleviates stress, which helps with our mental health too. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone!
There are three kinds of exercises: Aerobic, Strength, and Stretching. Aerobic involves mostly cardio-based exercises, such as running, swimming, biking, playing sports, etc. Strength exercises involve weight training and floor exercises (like sit ups and pushups). Stretching includes yoga, which can help you keep limber and avoid injury when engaging in aerobic and strength exercises.
Additionally, if you’re not ready to start a gym membership (or you’re just worried about paying for the membership and not using it), try walking or biking to classes instead of taking the bus or car. See if you enjoy it and then you can increase from there!
Sleep deprivation causes you to become lethargic, stressed, constantly tired, and unfocused. It also affects your immune system, causing it to be not as efficient and therefore letting you become sick more often.
Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This can seem daunting to ask of a college student, but the benefits are substantial. A way to accomplish this is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will give your body a schedule, which will help you have less sleepless nights as your body will become accustomed to it’s scheduled rest and digest time slot.
Catch up on prescriptions, many can just be transferred to a local pharmacy
Get established with a new provider if your insurance is changing, just a get acquainted visit is all most young people need.
So, next time you’re thinking of ordering the fried chicken, try ordering it grilled. Or, ride your bike to school instead of hopping on the MTD. These baby steps can help inspire you to take bigger steps towards a healthier lifestyle. College is often used as an excuse to let go of your health, but instead, it should be seens as a opportunity to develop your own health lifestyle that will follow you throughout your life. If your worried about developing a plan on your own, talk to your gyno! If you're in the Champaign-Urbana area, call Women's Health Practice to schedule an appointment to discuss your options! Additionally, schedule a free consultation with one of our personal trainers at Hatha Yoga & Fitness to kickstart your fitness!