Starting college can be the beginning of a new adventure, packed with new experiences, new friends and new challenges. Among those challenges is the difficulty of balancing classes, studying, working, a social life, and your health and wellness. Many students find it difficult to maintain or develop healthy habits during this adjustment period and end up falling victim to the “Freshman 15.” Fortunately, you can avoid this by following these tips:
- Get involved!
Almost every college campus offers sport and recreational opportunities usually at little or no cost. GGC offers both club and intramural sports that are great opportunities for getting physical activity and socializing. There is also Outdoor Adventures and various student clubs that provide fun ways to get moving.
- Join the WRC!
The GGC Wellness and Recreation Center offers an easily accessible workout facility. Play basketball, swim, lift weights or take a group fitness class. Exercising for 30-45 minutes per day is essential for physical and mental health.
- Park farther from your classes and walk!
Get those steps in by parking across campus from your class. Adding in a few extra minutes of walking every time you come to campus can add up throughout the week. Just make sure you leave home a little earlier so you can still make it to class on time!
- Plan meals and bring snacks!
If you usually spend long days on campus, it can be tempting to just grab lunch or a snack at one of the various dining options. However, these are often not the healthiest choices. Plan ahead and bring plenty of snacks so you’re not tempted to make unhealthy choices. The GGC dining hall also offers several healthy meal options each day.
- Take exercise breaks!
Studying for hours on end can be very draining for the mind and body. Make an effort to take a short exercise break at regular intervals. For example, for every hour you spend studying, take a five-minute activity break by going for a short walk or doing some jumping jacks, jump squats or burpees. The activity will give your mind a break and reinvigorate your focus.
- Avoid drinking calories!
It’s easy to consume hundreds of extra calories with little nutritional value when you consume beverages with a lot of sugar. Consuming juices and sugary beverages can cause calories to add up quickly and be a major blow to your health and wellness efforts. If you feel you need caffeine for late night study sessions, avoid the frozen blended coffee drinks and instead opt for black coffee.
- Resist overeating!
As a college student, it is typically a given that funds are tight. This makes the all-you-can-eat buffet, or super-sized value meal a budget-friendly option. Though it may be hard to resist, avoid eating more than a normal-sized meal to get your money’s worth. A good deal for your wallet may not be a good deal for your health.
- Sleep! But not more than you need to. Staying up all night cramming for exams is not an effective study method and it will disrupt your sleep schedule. Figure out how much sleep you need, usually between 6-8 hours, and try to stick to the same routine. Sleeping longer than you need to can lead to weight gain and eventual obesity.
- Track your nutrition and activity! With so many options for activity and nutrition tracking, it is easy to find a method that works for you. Many times, it is hard to see what your eating and activity patterns are unless they are displayed right in front of you. Trackers will tell you if you’re getting enough activity and how that relates to the amount of food that you are eating. If you are consistently eating more calories than you are expending, you will gain weight!
Dr. Lauren Tapp is an associate professor of exercise science in the School of Science and Technology and is currently in her eighth year at GGC. Dr. Tapp received her Ph.D. from Temple University in integrative exercise physiology and completed her undergraduate degree (exercise science and nutrition) as well as her graduate degree (exercise physiology) at Florida State University. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a certified health and fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine and is also a certified sports performance coach with USA Weightlifting.