Many students, particularly freshmen who are often away from the creature comforts of home for the first time in their lives, do not take as good care of themselves as they should do.
Parties, alcohol, a lazy lifestyle and a reliance on takeaways are all reasons for this, and it can be hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when many of your fellow students will be doing the same.
It’s a negative stereotype, but one that holds up if you ask anybody who has ever been to university. However, there are many ways in which students can subvert the cliches and enjoy university without putting on weight and letting their health take a plunge.
With that in mind, here are 12 ways that university and college students can invest in their health and fitness during the most exciting and carefree time of their lives:
Join a Gym (At The Right Time)
The quickest and easiest way to grab a hold of your fitness is to join a gym. Your university is likely to have at least one option for you to join, but it’s worth keeping an eye on other gyms in your area to see if you have better options. This is especially useful if you’re into certain areas of fitness, e.g. swimming, weight training, fitness classes, etc. Weigh up your options before you start paying.
Being a student, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for any discounts and special offers, particularly at the beginning of the academic year. Many gyms will be looking to entice students into joining them, and you can often save a lot of money in joining fees and by signing up for long-term memberships. These are particularly useful as they will motivate you to keep going if you have paid for it in full.
Find Your Local Hiking Trails
A great way to keep fit and learn about your local area is to search the web for hiking trails and walks around where you live, and where your university is based. There’s nothing better for your health and fitness than taking a mile or two to clear your head, forget about exams or simply to get your heart rate up a bit. If you fancy earning some extra money while taking a walk, you can sign up to be a dog walker. Whatever reason you do it, walking is the cheapest and easiest way to keep fit while at university.
Invest in Cooking Books
Many students live on a diet of microwave meals and pot noodles, and these are not the bestways to look after yourself while at university. The misconception is that fresh food and ingredients are expensive, but this is far from the case. If you buy in bulk, healthy foods such as pasta, rice, sauces and tinned goods are inexpensive and can be the basis for a healthy student lifestyle.
Once you have mastered the art of buying fresh foods, you should look for ways to make the best of them. Investing in cooking books is a great idea. You can buy them used at car boot sales and charity shops, or borrow them from your parents. Either way, you can find many great meal ideas that you can use to keep yourself eating well and healthily throughout the academic year.
Join a Society
One of the best ways to integrate yourself into college life is to join societies based on your interests. While this is great for your social life and mental health, there are ways to use the societies for your health and fitness needs, too. You could join the football team, netball, hockey, basketball, running, etc. The list goes on. If you are looking to get fit and healthy, societies are a superb option. Not only will you start playing more sport, but you’ll have a team of like-minded people around you to keep you motivated year round.
Leave The Car at Home
For many people, college is the first time that they have owned a car or had regular access to a vehicle. This often leads to laziness kicking in, meaning that the car is used for everything – from picking up a carton of milk to driving to college. While it’s great to have the freedom of having a car, it should only be used for long distance travels. This will keep your gas costs low, but it will also encourage you to do more exercise, whether that’s by foot or by bike.
Replace Sugary Drinks with Water
It can be incredibly easy to indulge yourself while you’re at college, and one of the most popular ways for college students is guzzling sugary drinks that you may not have had access to at home. These are full of empty calories and can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, so consider switching them for water. Even if you have cordial instead, at least the majority of these are no added sugar, meaning that you won’t be bored drinking it and you’ll be a lot healthier as a result. Sugary drinks can lead to acne, weight gain and teeth problems – and you won’t find any of those on a student’s wish list.
Increase Your Fruit and Veg Intake
Human beings should be looking to eat ten pieces of fruit and vegetables every day, and it’s a lot easier to do this than many people think. Students can up their fruit and veg intake by making smoothies (blenders and smoothie makers are pretty cheap, too) and soups, which take no time at all and can be packed with all the nutrients and goodness that your body needs. You can also save a lot of money by heading down to your local market and buying fruit and veg in bulk, rather than in supermarkets where you could end up paying more, and being tempted towards the chocolate isle instead.
Ban The Microwave
While it can be great for heating up leftovers and warming up your breakfast cereal, the microwave can also be a gateway to a lifestyle of convenience, including super noodles, processed microwave meals and other types of food and aren’t going to be forgiving on your health and fitness. Try to use the microwave as little as possible, and if your student house/flat doesn’t have one – don’t panic. Use your hobs and oven and go fresh wherever you can. Don’t let bad habits and laziness set in or you’ll struggle to make a change down the road.
Speak to Professionals
Many students struggle with mental health issues and addiction while studying, and it can be difficult to find the right people to talk to about them, and if you are a distance away from your parents, you could find yourself feeling alone. This is when you need to speak to a professional, whether it’s through your doctor, a tutor or councilor at college, or somebody at one of the many rehab centers around the country that you should learn more about. They can get you the help you need before it takes a drastic effect on your studies, and on your life long-term.
Delete The Takeaway Apps
This one might be tough for some students, but if you’re going to invest in your health and fitness, deleting the takeaway apps from your smartphone is a useful way of avoiding temptation and making the necessary changes to lead a better lifestyle. It’s too easy to come home after a busy day and order something in, and with 2-4-1 offers everywhere and apps that collate all your favorite takeout joints, it’s understandable why so many people give in. However, if you delete the apps, you are likely to forget about them once they are no longer at your fingertips. Just be sure to hide those takeaway menus that pop through your letterbox, too. You will need your willpower for this one.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep-deprived students is an image many people can picture without too much of a problem, and whether it’s due to having a few too many night-outs or due to the stress and anxiety that comes from upcoming deadlines, students need to count many sleep.
Make sure they get their 8-10 hours of sleep every night in order to prevent any potential mental and physical health issues that come from a lack of sleep – such as weight gain, depression and constant lethargy. It’s not a good feeling to be overtired, and over time, it can have a drastic effect on your social life as well as your health. Try to keep alcohol and caffeine intake to a minimum, and get plenty of exercise. You’ll be snoozing through the night in no time.
Take Your Vitamins
Vitamins are a useful way for students to get the good stuff in their bodies without having to deviate from the student lifestyle too much.
For skin care, there are cod liver oil tablets, multivitamins for the box tickers and vitamin C tablets for those who just need a boost in the morning. These are all available from your pharmacist without a subscription, and won’t eat into your student loans too much.