How to stay healthy in dynamic student life
For the most part, modern society is shifting away from active, outdoor lifestyles. The mechanization of every aspect of life makes for a change in the way we are living. We are moving away from the necessity to be active to survive towards a life that is more comfortable and convenient in many ways. The daily activities that our ancestors had to complete by hand as little as 150 years ago have gradually been replaced by automated processes carried out by machines. Overall, this is not a bad thing. The human race has, in many aspects, profited from mechanization like no other. At the same time, it has gotten lazy. In today’s world, most people live a lifestyle that incorporates a lot of sitting and very little of such activities like walking, running, bicycling, or any other kind of movement really. The results can widely be observed as obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses take over humankind, becoming a norm at an alarming speed.
Now with this change of lifestyle, the real problem is that, instead of living a dynamic and active life, we forget about ways to stay physically healthy. Staying active is a mindset that, if you don?t have it already, takes strength to incorporate into your daily routine. This article will particularly focus on how to stay healthy in college for one simple reason:
Research has shown that a phenomenon infamously called the “Freshman 15” needs to be treated with real concern. It describes a phenomenon of weight gain, which can be observed among first-year university students. A 2012 study, cited by the Washington Post, found that 70% of all participating students showed a gain in their body weight over a four year enrollment period. A more recent study, conducted in the year 2015, found that the average student gains 7.5 pounds within their primary year of college.
As it turns out, the “Freshman 15” is slightly exaggerated and should rather be called “Freshman 7.5?. The point is that a lot of teenagers and young adults miss the moment in their lives when their metabolic rate slows down, while their daily activity level simultaneously decreases. This leaves a majority of them with a weight gain that normally goes unnoticed.
This article will discuss ways to stay healthy during college education and offer some health and wellness tips. It will focus on different aspects that need to be considered in order to achieve an all-around healthy lifestyle. A daily routine needs to be formed that includes a healthy diet, a balanced amount of sport, and a well constructed social life.
Schools acknowledge the importance of active lifestyles
The good news is that universities stress the importance of sport-related activities by investing in sports programs and sport-related infrastructure. The players of the school teams function as role models for other students, and the culture of supporting the school?s teams is highly encouraged.
Universities have realized that all of their students need to have access to recreational facilities. That is why most schools encourage the participation of their students in more healthy lifestyles and offer fitness and sports clubs, as well as gyms with classes for different activities like Yoga, spinning classes and more. In addition to that, some schools have teams of nutritionists that provide dietary counseling free of charge.
Breaking Old Habits
Everybody forms habits as part of its routine. This makes life predictable. We are certain of what?s coming ahead, and that makes us feel comfortable. In fact, we have gotten so used to the way we do things that we hardly even recognize when we are stuck in a behavioral pattern. Therefore, only rarely do we get the urge to take on something new, like a challenge that we have never attempted before. This mainly results from being unhappy or starting to feel bored with our predictable lives. To achieve this much-needed change, we have to break out of old habits and routines, which have been formed over long periods of time.
We need to break the cycle if we want to make room for a new habit. Old ones have to make room. This is going to be very challenging. It can take a lot of effort and willpower. Believe me, I have been there. And that is exactly why I know for certain that it is possible to break out of the repetition cycle of a bad habit and leave it all behind. But, as it is with all new things in life, getting started on a new path is hard.
The ultimate goal is to include practices for a healthy life in our daily routine. The initial step towards a more healthy lifestyle is breaking the negative habits that we accumulate throughout life. Now, we have our mindset on the issue. We are able to gradually start exchanging our daily endeavors for more active ones and incorporate more healthy ways of living in our everyday routines.
One of the biggest myths about health and fitness is that in order to get fit one needs to love doing what everybody else does. This is not true. You have to create your own fitness routine if you want to be able to stick with it (no matter what it is you decide on doing). Fitness does not have to be about jogging if you cannot stand it. Find out whatever it is you like and dislike. Be creative. There are hundreds of different possibilities to stay active. One thing that I found to be very helpful is to make friends with people who are already active as they will naturally motivate you.
Going to the Gym
Schools provide the infrastructures that give students the possibilities to change something about the way they?re living. The most obvious way to start becoming fit is to join a gym. If you are a newbie, this can seem quite intimidating at first. For confidence, try to pair up with a friend who goes to the gym regularly or take a couple of classes with a fitness trainer. It is important to be familiar with the correct movements to prevent injuries.
Try to convince a friend or peer to join you and make the gym time a partner activity. Together you can push further and motivate each other. This will help you stick with your new routine as well. Going to the gym is all about feeling good. Once you managed to stick with some regularity, you will realize that something is missing when you cannot make it. One great thing about starting to train is that you will see small results almost immediately. Another pro is that your energy level is likely to rise and daily shores start feeling easier.
Alternative Ways to Stay Active
You can start learning a dance style with or without a partner. Rhumba, for example, is a great exercise to keep you fit and in shape. Or you can find a type of music you like and (instead of going out drinking) you can go out just for the music and the dancing. Moving your body for hours non-stop burns calories like crazy.
Find a local fitness studio that offers Yoga and Pilates classes. Both are fun ways to finely tone and shape your body. Yoga is traditionally centered on relaxation, which doesn?t mean that it is not challenging, while Pilates focuses on breaking the sweat. Both are also great in combination with small muscle workouts in the gym for more stability and strength.
For the more outdoorsy types, consider taking camping and trail hiking trips on the weekend. Schlepping a backpack full of supplies up a mountain will definitely get to you. While you are at it, how about some rock climbing?
Ever thought about taking the bicycle instead of the car? Using a bike for short trips is not only good for the environment but also for your waistline and heart.
For those who have easy access to a body of water, kayaking or rowing are other great options to stay in shape. If it is windy enough where you live, try out kite or windsurfing.
Going on long walks does not seem to be sporty enough? Recent research has proven this to be a myth. The muscles we use to move forward bring our heart rate up and switch our body into fat burn mode. It also has a lesser impact on the knees than running and is a great way to clear your head during busy times of study or confusing social life.
These are just a few suggestions from a wide variety of possible alternative ways to stay active. Start with trying out one or two and if you do not dig them, move on to the next. Especially the outdoor ones are great for you because they bring you closer to nature and relief the tension and worries that student life brings with it.
Watching your Diet
There is this one thing, we all know about. Yet we try very hard to push it to the back of our minds: the excess amount of beer we gulp down our throats during freshman year (well, actually all the way through college) makes for a big portion of the weight we put on during this time. There is no problem with the occasional beer, but when we go out, we might want to consider other options.
All the sport in the world won?t help if one does not watch his/her diet. Being a student can be stressful and time-consuming. This is why we often choose the fastest option for food available. Fast food is not only terrible for your body, and it also makes your skin look bad. After all, you are what you eat. And still, this is not me saying never choose the fatty foods. We all know how fast food can feel like a live saver after a night out or on a hangover day. And yes, sometimes it is literally the only option because nobody likes to get to bed hungry. Listen to your body and if the fatty stuff is, what it requires, then go for it. As with the beer, the same principle applies to fast food. Our bodies can deal with it in small portions, but with an excessive amount, it gets much harder.
Here is what you can focus on:
Plan ahead to avoid a situation of ?hanger? (hunger+anger) and rash decisions. Cook more than you need the night before and bring leftovers for lunch the next day. This will not only save you from eating a bunch of garbage but also spare your wallet.
Be aware that snacking while studying can get out of hand real fast. At this point, you are eating without even realizing that you are. I loved to nibble on nuts and chocolate when studying and four months later wondered why my favorite jeans wouldn?t fit anymore.
The bottom line is that it is helpful to take the time and prepare healthy meals at home. It does not only save you money in the long run but will also lead to satisfaction with your body. Another fun thing that I like to do is to invite friends over for a cooking night. This combines the healthy aspect of investing time into my meal preparation with a social event.
Healthy Heart Wants Healthy Brain
While we tend to forget everything around us when studying, it is essential to set time apart to do something other than studying. There are so many things one can do. Here are only a couple of options and ideas:
reading for leisure
organize a wellness and spa day with your friends
get creative and build, craft, draw or paint
watch movies, see a theater play, or enjoy live music at a concert
join a social club
volunteer to help the less fortunate
get a job on the side
arrange dates with some fellow students
No matter what you end up doing in your free time, it is paramount to relax and make enough time for your social life. Everybody needs the hours in which he/she can just release the day’s tension and forget about all assignments, exams, classes and related stresses and worries.
Creating a Habit
At last, we need to discuss how to create a habit to introduce ways to stay physically healthy in our college life routine. Take a look at the process of forming a habit:
A habit is defined as a reoccurring behavioral pattern that is mostly subconscious and repeats itself regularly. Creating a good habit is the first step to making a change in the way we live our lives. Initially, it may seem very hard, but it does get easier as one goes until it will be a mere subconscious activity. Forming a new habit should follow the pattern of the three R?s, namely Reminder, Routine, and Reward.
Reminder: Something occurs that reminds us of a required action. It automatically makes us continue with step two
Routine: Follows the event of the trigger (1). This is the actual habit we are trying to build
Reward: A benefit we reach by carrying out step 2 (for example a major goal we are working towards)
In order to build a habit, the reward should have a positive effect on us. This way we can be certain that the next time the reminder pops up, we are willing to take action to reach the reward. It is a spiral. And this is basically what forms a habit. If you are trying to create a habit for ways to stay healthy in college, the three R?s scheme could look somewhat like this:
Reminder: You arrive at a campus, and your designated parking spot is located next to the wellness complex with the gym. Seeing the building reminds you of working out.
Routine: You walk inside and complete your workout session.
Reward: The exhaustion of the workout catches up with you while you are standing in the shower. You feel good about having completed your workout. Then, you observe your image in the mirror. This gives you a feeling of satisfaction, which you will remember next time you park your car outside the wellness complex.
There are several ways to promote college student health. This article aimed at outlining a few of them. In general, a balanced combination of cooking and eating healthy foods, doing sports you like and an active social life will bring you the most happiness.