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5 Tips for Staying Healthy on And Off Your College Campus

Heading off to college means embracing a whole new group of challenges in your life. You’ll have classes ahead of you that put anything you did in high school to shame, working harder than you ever thought possible. You’ll have a whole new campus and surrounding town to learn, and the opportunity to turn thousands of strangers into friends, lovers, mentors and partners in crime. You’ll have to juggle adult financial concerns for the first time, and perhaps balance the requirements of a part time job with your full time course load. And you’ll also have to battle the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. It’s become something of a cliche  that people go off to college and get fat, but it is true for thousands of students. You’re in charge of what you eat and drink, and how much or little time you spend exercising. And with all of the educational and social distractions vying for your attention, the easy road is too often taken. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five tips for staying healthy on and off your college campus.

First of all, take the time to really think about what you’re putting in your body. Most students head off to school with some sort of campus food plan, and those cafeterias are overloaded with options. Many of them pack a major caloric punch, and it will be up to you to start turning down dessert after meals, even though it will always be available. Think about the food pyramid, and try to keep your consumption in line. Also keep in mind that you’re going to get hungry between meals. Bring healthy snacks with you as you go about your day, so you don’t end up relying on vending machines. And try to curb the late night binges. It’s easy to end up at the diner or a food truck when you get out of a party at two in the morning, but those extra calories will add up in a hurry.

Speaking of the late night party scene, you’re going to have to think about your drinking. Obviously, going to parties and having a few beers comes with the territory at college. But alcohol is empty calories, and each shot and sip will lead you down the road to struggles with your weight. Avoid binge drinking situations whenever possible, and choose lighter alcoholic options when you can. Don’t be afraid to enjoy your time at school, but make every drinking experience worthwhile. Avoid those extra rounds that you don’t really need, or the random beers on nights you aren’t going out to a party.

Maintaining a balanced diet is great, but it won’t do you any good without regular exercise. This is something that’s often ignored by college students, even though you’ll have more access and support in this area that most people. Chances are there are several gyms on campus, and membership is included in your tuition costs. Take advantage of what you’ve got on hand. You don’t have to exercise every single day, but if you can get in at least thirty minutes of rigorous exercise three-to-five times a week, you won’t have to worry as much about what you eat and drink.

If the gym isn’t really your thing, look for other ways to exercise. First of all, consider biking or walking to class instead of driving or taking public transportation. You’ll have to leave a bit of extra time to get around, but you’ll enjoy built in exercise that you don’t ever have to think about. Although it won’t be rigorous, it will keep your metabolism up, and help offset those marathon video game and candy sessions at the end of the day.

Another great option is to look for some team sports to get involved with. Sports are great because they join exercise and socialization. You won’t really focus on the workout you’re getting during a pickup basketball game or when playing softball in the park. Perhaps you can roll that experience into the background that leads you towards an MBA in health management? Regardless, you’ll keep away the freshman fifteen and make some friends all at the same time. What more could you ask for?