It is always important to work towards being healthy and staying in good shape throughout your entire life, but focusing on staying fit is especially important during your college years. Why, might you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons that make it easy to fall into bad habits in college – and if you don’t make a conscious effort to avoid those bad habits, you may find yourself leaving college a lot larger and less healthy than when you arrived.
What are some of the culprits that make it hard to stay fit in college? For one, many students in college will pay for a meal plan that typically allows you to eat in in a buffet-style cafeteria on the school’s campus with an “all you can eat” approach – at least, until you leave the cafeteria. So, it can be very tempting to eat more food than you should or to eat food that is not quite the healthiest for you since fatty and greasy food is abundantly available – and that can start to pack on the pounds before you know it. Add to that excess food any drinking you may do or the consumption of late night pizza and munchies, and you will quickly start to notice that you’re not quite in as good shape as you were before you left home.
Staying fit and in shape will help you remain healthier and may possibly prevent some ailments from occurring in the future. College is a time where you will start to develop many habits that could last a lifetime, so you want to make sure that they are good habits rather than bad ones. One habit you should try to commit to during college to set the stage for a healthy life is to stay in shape and keep fit. In addition to any future health benefits it may offer, staying fit in college will also help you feel better, look better, reduce stress and avoid illness while you are still on campus.
There are many ways in which you can help yourself stay fit in college. Here are a few tips to keep you in good shape while still living the life of a college student. By following them, you can also help to avoid that often dreaded “freshman 15”!
Eat healthy – In buffet-style cafeterias, there is a lot of food available that may not be so good for you. However, there are almost always healthier options to choose from – and sometimes you can even ask for something to be made specifically for you. It is important that you are aware of what is good and bad for you so that you know what to eat more of (and what to avoid!). You cannot constantly eat fatty foods like hamburgers or fried chicken – eat them on occasion if you want, but most of the time, choose healthier alternatives like grilled chicken, salads (watch the dressing!), veges and other lower fat items.
Snack healthy – Snacking is also an issue that many college students need to control. It is okay to snack, in fact you need to eat periodic snacks, but you should not do it excessively because then it can become unhealthy. You also need to be aware of what types of food you select when snacking. As a general guideline, you should have two snacks a day along with three meals. Most of your snack foods should be fairly nutritious and should help to fill all of your daily nutritional needs. What does this mean? Snacks like yogurt, fresh fruit and nuts are good. Doritos, french fries and chocolate bars not so much. If you have a dorm fridge (and you should!), pack it full of healthy snack options for when you’re burning the midnight oil.
Go to the gym – Just about every college or university will have a gym for you to work out in. Most of the time, these gyms are very well equipped, so you will have a variety of equipment at your disposal to use for working out. Use of the gym is usually included in your tuition and fees so you might as well take advantage of it – you’re paying for it anyway. Some gyms are located in a centralized athletic building and some schools even have smaller workout facilities right in the dorms so you don’t have to travel far to get fit. You can create your own workout routine to best meet your needs based on the parts of the body that you want to target, how much time you are willing to devote to working out and what shape you are already in. Consistency is important so you should come up with a schedule that you can handle and commit to in order to help you stay healthy and in shape. As an added bonus, going to the gym can be a nice break from all of the work you’ll be doing and can be a great social outlet and stress reliever. Don’t like going to the gym? Get out and take a walk around campus, play frisbee with some friends or engage in another physical activity that you enjoy! That will also help to keep you in shape.
Have fun – In college you’re sure to make some new friends, and you can actually stay in shape while just hanging out with these friends. Well, actually that will depend on what you do, but there are some great options that can keep the fun going while keeping you all moving. No need to just sit around in someone’s dorm room or apartment playing video games or watching TV. Instead, Take a jog through a nearby park together, organize a game of dorm vs. dorm volleyball or softball, or grab your bike (if you have one) and go exploring around campus. Working out is more enjoyable and more rewarding when you have someone else to do it with and the time goes by much more quickly when you have someone to talk to, so if you can gather up a couple of friends, you can all work out together or just simply get moving.
Being on your own in college means taking responsibility for your own health and fitness. No one is there to make sure you eat healthy, don’t snack too much or get in enough exercise – those responsibilities are now up to you. It’s important to stay fit in college, or to get fit if you never were before. You want to get in good in shape, maintain your health and fitness level, and ward off some of the issues that can arise from the excessive eating, drinking and studying that can occur while in college. What you do in college will set the stage for your health later in life, and will also make you feel better right now. So, make eating healthy and staying active an important part of your daily routine so you can stay fit in college. Moving more can be lots of fun, too!
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