Ever hammered out some decline push-ups in a dorm room hallway? The first post in this series offered 10 tips to help keep you Eating Healthy in College, and was focused more on the nutrition side of the equation. This post, the second in the series, is focused on fighting off the ferocious freshman 15 by incorporating habits in your daily life that will keep you more active, healthy, fit, and focused.
Get Physical, Get Fit
1. On Campus Classes – Take advantage of any on campus physical fitness classes offered at your college. Classes are a great way to meet new people, which in turn can provide you with the invaluable support of a group or team to reinforce your commitment to your goals. Challenges like betting on who can build the most muscle, or gain the most strength over the course of a semester are surprisingly motivating, especially if the payout is the celebratory bar tab at the end.
2. Take a Fitness Course – Whether it’s weight lifting or dancing, taking fitness related courses is a great way to keep in shape while earning credit at the same time. Many colleges now make a physical fitness course a requirement for graduation. If you’re looking to start building lean muscle but aren’t sure where to start, many colleges offer weight training classes that use the same equipment as the sports teams. Take advantage of the resources you have access to now and start small, and there’s no telling how far your journey will take you.
3. Walk or Bike to Class – Strive to be active on your way to class rather than taking a bus, or driving a car. Planning is required to prevent tardiness, but the big payout in calories burned can really add up to a fitter and healthier you.
4. Walk and Talk – Go for a walk to catch up with friends rather than sitting inside your dorm, apartment, or in commons areas. Keeping up with your studies often means adopting a more sedentary lifestyle at times, so be sure to get out and get moving whenever possible.
5. Sleep Well – to help ensure you’re performing at your best daily both physically and mentally, be sure to get enough sleep. How much? The truth is that there really is no magic number. It depends on a variety of factors including your age, your health, and you as a unique and special individual (just like everybody else). Research suggests that the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of basal sleep per night, which is the amount needed for optimum performance each night without taking sleep debt into consideration. Sleep debt is the amount of basal sleep you owe yourself due to poor sleep habits such as all night cram sessions, and awakenings like loud roomies and other environmental factors. Crap, that’s another college debt I’m still paying off.
Sleep Deprivation is Linked to:
- Increased BMI as sleep deprivation has a tendency to increase appetite
- Increased risk of auto accidents
- Increased risk of psychiatric problems including depression and substance abuse
- Decreased ability to concentrate and remember new information
6. Record Your Workouts – Tracking your workouts helps to keep them a priority in your busy schedule, and also can help motivate you by allowing you to see your progress. For tips on effective S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, be sure to visit my post How to Create Your Smart New Year’s Resolution.
7. Start Small – starting with just 30 minutes of workout time per day can have a dramatic increase in the way you look and feel. Workout first thing in the morning to get your blood pumping, or do it in the evening to clear your head, but just do it. Then gradually increase the amount of time you spend as your schedule and fitness level allows.
8. Try Yoga – Yoga provides a variety of health and relaxation benefits that most college students can benefit from. Adding yoga to your morning routines is a fabulous way to get your energy and focus flowing for the day. Yoga in the evening is a great way to restore and recover from the day’s hectic schedule by clearing your mind, which often helps in improving your sleep habits (see number 5).
9. Give Your Life a Soundtrack – The online resources available today mean that there’s music for every occasion right at your finger tips. Picking music to help set the mood is not just reserved for those late night rendezvous, but is also a great way to power through workouts or “focus power” your way through your studies. People’s tastes in music are about at unique as fingerprints, so experiment for yourself and find music that works for you. Classical music is a common choice for study sessions, but it makes some people fall asleep faster than reading tax code, so test and test some more. If you’re not on Pandora yet, I strongly suggest checking it out. It’s a great way to expand your musical arsenal, as it recommends artists and bands based on qualities of those you already like. It’s also a great way to add music to your workouts, especially if you have Wi-Fi at your gym or fitness center.
10. Get Organized – I’m still not quite certain if it was our hectic lives that spawned the many devices we use today to stay organized, or if it was the devices themselves that allowed us to live our lives like “a bit of butter spread across too much bread” (bonus nerd points if you know where that quote is from). Whatever the case may be, getting organized now is a quality that will benefit you far beyond college and into your professional lives. This includes planning your schedule wisely in order to allow yourself time to attend to the spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of your life. Strength in any of these three facets succeeds in strengthening the others, but weakness in them left unchecked also has the power to crumble they others as well.
Congratulations to all of the students out there who are, or who will be, embarking on their scholastic journeys. Many of your journeys will lead you to careers that are rewarding both financially and otherwise. My appeal to you is to never let yourself become merely a sedentary desk jockey, whether for someone else, or as an entrepreneur. The only way that I know how to accomplish this is by making your commitment to fitness one of the top priorities in your life. It’s been said over and over and it still rings true, “health is the true wealth.”
I encourage you to share how you stay fit in the comments section below, or share whatever rocks your socks!
Remember that topic suggestions for this site are always welcome and can be made via my contact link.