Don't Neglect Your Body as You Develop Your Mind

For college and high school students, fall brings a lot of activity. Between fun stuff (like football games, parties, dances) and much harder things (like midterms and research papers), it may seem like there is not much time left to exercise and eat right. It is not uncommon for students to let their health slide. Before you know it, it's January 1 and you're trying to figure out how to lose 20 pounds before going on Spring Break!

There is a better way to do this. By establishing some simple, healthy nutrition and fitness habits, you can avoid gaining weight and even have more energy for school and everything else.

On the nutrition side, focus simply on making the right choices. This can make all the difference. For example:
  • Eating a good breakfast will give you energy well into the day and will cut down on cravings later.
  • For late-night study snacks, try fruit or nuts instead of pizza or potato chips. By preparing ahead of time, you’re less likely to resort to unhealthy fast food when you’re in a pinch, and the healthier foods you eat will stabilize your energy levels throughout the day (and night).
  • Drink plenty of water. Water helps your body remove waste and even helps you lose weight by metabolizing fat. It also helps reduce hunger. Try to keep a water bottle with you all day and drink that in class instead of high-calorie drinks like soda.
It can be hard to find time for fitness. Some options include:
  • Use your school’s facilities with a friend. Most schools now have comprehensive fitness centers, so you might as well take advantage of them while they’re free (or close to it). Finding someone to go with will make you accountable so you’ll be more likely to keep going. Also, the gym can be a great place to meet new people.
  • Walk as much as you can. If you're on your way to lunch or class and have the time, walk instead of driving. Even if you’re running late, increase your speed. Not only will you make it to class on time, you’ll also be getting aerobic benefit.
  • Take breaks from studying to do some quick exercises for refreshment. Jumping jacks, crunches, push-ups, lunges, climbing stairs, or walking around the building can all be done in just a few minutes. Exercise breaks will also make your mind more alert and your studying more effective.
  • Play a sport. You don't have to be part of the school's team. Anyone can play pick-up games or participate in intramurals or club sports.
Remember, don't get down on yourself if you miss a week of exercising or need to eat pizza a few nights in a row. School may be a stressful time, but it can also be the best time of your life—and one of your healthiest. Just try to remember the good habits presented here and other ones you learn along the way.

As you practice them more, you’ll be more consistent. Plus you’ll have plenty of energy and reduce the stress that comes with school. High school and college are times when healthy habits are made, so put forth the effort now and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.