Did you know that only 36 percent of college students rate their health as “very good”? And, that the idea of the “starving college student” is actually a complete myth?
In fact, it’s estimated that 70 percent of college students gain weight during their undergrad years.
Clearly, college students could be doing a little more to stay healthier. But, between socializing, late nights out partying, the stress of studying for exams, and a lack of money to buy healthy, organic foods, it does make sense why most college students are a bit unhealthy.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Staying healthy in college isn’t impossible. And, you don’t have to give up partying and socializing in order to stay healthy.
So, what do you need to do to be a healthy college student? Check out this guide to learn the top tips for staying healthy in college.
It’s often thought that the less you sleep, the more time you have to get things done. And, people who get a little extra sleep are “lazy”.
Well, this is totally false. Sleep is very important for your overall health. Not only will getting enough sleep (most experts recommend that college students get at least 8 hours per night) make you more alert for your exams and studies, but it will also improve your health.
In fact, poor sleep can lead to serious health issues down the road such as:
- Increased stress levels
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart disease, heart attacks, and heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lower sex drive
- Aging skin
So, don’t feel bad about catching a few extra Zs if you need them.
Take Advantage of Campus Resources
Colleges know how much health can affect a student’s performance. And that’s why most campuses have free resources available to help students stay healthy.
Here are some common campus resources that you should take advantage:
Fitness and Recreation Centers
Most college campuses have some type of fitness center that students can use for free.
In fact, many facilities even rival state-of-the-art fitness centers that you’d normally have to pay for. Just check out these facilities offered by Colorado State University to get an idea.
While this is definitely top of the line and not typical for a college campus, most college campuses at least offer a modest gym, a track, and a pool.
And, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a big fitness guru for your workout to pay off. Even just brisk walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes to an hour can make a world of a difference.
Also, if going to a gym intimidates you, there are plenty of workouts you can do from the comfort of your own dorm room. Just head to Youtube and type in “at-home workouts” or “bodyweight workouts” and you’ll be set.
Health and Nutrition Centers
In middle school and high school, our bodies tend to grow very fast. Which means we can pretty much eat what we want without really having to worry about the consequences.
But, our growth slows down a lot in college, which means that living off of pizza and Doritos is no longer an option for those wanting to stay fit.
If you’re used to being able to eat whatever you want, it can be tough to navigate the world of healthy food at first.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take advantage of your campus’s health and nutrition center.
In these centers, you can take advantage of programs such as nutrition counseling, healthy cooking classes, and even peer nutrition educators. At the very least, your campus should have some brochures you can pick up about healthy eating and healthy meals you can cook that don’t cost you a fortune.
No, we’re not talking about fitness classes you can take through your gym once you’re done with your classes for the day- we’re talking about fitness classes that you can get actual college credit for.
That’s right. Most campuses offer fitness classes in the same way they offer academic classes. So, if you have room in your schedule for it, we suggest taking advantage of it. Cardio, kickboxing, tennis, Pilates, and golf are examples of typical fitness classes offered through college campuses.
And, don’t forget that most college campuses offer intramural sports programs as well. These can be a great way to stay in shape, as well as socialize and meet new friends.
Find a Buddy
It’s much easier to stay healthy when you have someone else holding you accountable and motivating you.
So, grab a buddy who you can check in with about your health. This person can be your workout buddy who you hit the gym with or take fitness classes with. If someone is waiting for you, you’ll be much more likely to show up for your workouts.
Also, check in with each other about other things like eating fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water.
Again, if you have someone expecting you to do something, you’re much more likely to stick with it.
Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health
When we think about being healthy, our minds often go to the way we look However, physical health is only half the picture.
Your mental health is just as, if not more, important as your physical health.
Stress and Anxiety
As college students, we tend to get very stressed out. So, make sure you instill some healthy habits to relieve your stress. Try to have a list of healthy stress busters on hand so you don’t turn to unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking.
Healthy stress busters include:
- Going for a walk in nature
- Meditation: If you are new to meditation, there are many free apps you can download to get you started. Even just ten minutes of meditation per day can make a world of a difference!
- Use positive affirmations: Place sticky notes on your mirror with positive sayings that will help relieve stress and motivate you.
- Listening to peaceful music
- Taking a warm bubble bath
If you find that these options aren’t doing the trick and that you’re constantly on edge, you may want to schedule an appointment with your campus doctor. it could very well be that your stress is actually a much deeper issue, and you could have an anxiety disorder.
If this is the case, then you may need to start taking prescription medications or start taking CBD oil. CBD oil is known to be especially beneficial at relieving anxiety. In fact, there is even CBD oil for dogs with cancer!
Another major mental health issue that plagues college students is depression.
Of course, everyone gets down and out once in a while, and in college, there are plenty of things that can bum you out. A fight with your roommate. An unexpected breakup. Doing poorly on an exam.
However, if you find that your sadness is not going away and that you’re having trouble getting out of bed, socializing, and enjoying the activities that you once loved, then you may be suffering from depression.
Again, if you think you have depression, you should schedule an appointment with your campus doctor to discuss your options. There is medication, therapy, as well as a wide variety of other coping mechanisms available for those suffering from depression.
According to the American College Health Association, the suicide rate among teens and young adults ages 15-24 has tripled since the 1950s. If you feel like you’re in a place where you no longer want to be alive, know that there is help out there and that your campus doctor can help you take the next steps to a healthier, happier life.
Living a healthy lifestyle and being healthy during your college years is very important. However, at the end of the day, college is about having fun and making mistakes.
In other words, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for going out with friends for a night and ordering pizza when you get home. One night here and there of staying out late and eating junk food isn’t going to kill you, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for allowing yourself to have fun.
If you’re eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising the majority of days, then you’re doing just fine. Just make sure the unhealthy days don’t outnumber the healthy ones.
Staying Healthy in College: Are You Ready to Change Things Around?
As you can see, staying healthy in college isn’t all that hard. And, there are many things you can do to stay healthy that don’t cost a lot of money.
Which of these things are you most excited to implement in your college routine? Let us know in the comments below!
And, be sure to let us know if you have any questions about staying healthy in college.