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Staying Fit in College

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College can be a time of tremendous personal change, but it can also create major lifestyle changes. Moving away from home, and into the dorms, often means a new-found sense of independence. There’s no one to tell you when to be home, when to study or what to eat. Also, unless you are in a sports program, there’s also no one to tell you when to exercise. Additionally, the demands of schoolwork and social activities often mean that personal care, especially maintaining a healthy diet and exercising, often fall by the wayside. These lifestyle changes can result in weight gain and even health problems as you adjust to your new life in school.

Establish a Routine

While college may seem like a welcome reprieve from the routines that were established for you at home, but a strong daily routine can be a life-saver in terms of your health, and your overall success in school.

For example, while it may be tempting to wing it in terms of when you go to bed, it’s a better idea to establish a set bed time on the nights where you have classes the next day.

You should also schedule study time, meal times, social time, and exercise, to make certain that you can complete assignments on time, eat healthy meals, and get the exercise you need.

Having a routine does not mean that you have to be locked down to a schedule; after all, there will be times when you will need to be flexible. But a daily routine will give you a strong foundation for making better decisions about how you spend and manage your time, and take care of your health.

Consider Online Classes

Many schools offer students the option to take some or all of their classes online. For example, Gwynedd Mercy, one of the nursing schools in PA, offers traditional classes and accelerated online classes to students in certain nursing programs.

The advantage to online classes is that there is no set class time, which can give you more flexibility in your schedule and allow you to arrange time to exercise, and eat healthy meals.

If you also have to work, taking online classes will allow you to arrange your class time around your work schedule.

Take Advantage of Student Support Services

Most colleges have some type of support services to help students adjust to college life. This could include counseling services, tutoring services, and programs designed to train new students on college success strategies like time management.

These services can help you develop a strong daily routine, and help you cope when the stress of school threatens to distract you from that routine.

Some student services may even include courses on healthy eating in a dormitory setting, and other healthy lifestyle practices.

Join a GymTake Some Gym Classes

Even if your school does not require you to take physical education as a graduation requirement, it’s a good idea to sign up for a gym class as often as possible. Unlike high school, colleges often have several interesting and unique gym classes that can appeal to a variety of interests and fitness levels, such as yoga, martial arts classes, and even dance classes.

Taking a gym class forces you to incorporate exercise into your week because you will actually be graded on your participation and attendance.

Form and Exercise Group

Many schools come equipped with on-site gyms for students to use on their own time.  If you have difficulty motivating yourself to use the facilities, you could create an exercise group with friends and classmates to motivate each other to exercise.

The gym is included as part of your tuition and fees, you might as well get some use out of it.

Familiarize Yourself with the Cafeteria

School food often gets a bad rap, but school cafeterias are also a great place to practice healthy eating habits. Even if the entrée of the day looks suspicious, most cafeterias have salad bars with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as vegetable options on the food line.

Because cafeterias are only open at specific time of day, eating in the cafeteria will also help you establish a regular eating routine, which will help you resist temptations like late-night pizza parties and fast-food runs.

Keep Snacks on Hand

Despite your best efforts, there will be times when you will be tempted to eat after hours. Keeping healthy, non-perishable snack in your dorm room will help you make healthier choices when the munchies hit. If your college allows refrigerators in the dorm rooms, you can also keep perishables like eggs and cheese on hand. If your college allows cooking appliances, you can also use them to prepare healthy hot meals when you can’t make it to the cafeteria.

Just make sure that you keep all of your food in air-tight containers, and clean up after yourself, to avoid bugs.

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