Ways to avoid bad habits, stay healthy in college

May 9, 2016

Kyle Guthrie
[email protected]

Staying healthy can be hard work, especially for freshmen who come into the university with three free hours a week and $40 in their checking account.

As a result, many students participate in behaviors that can carry on throughout their life, such as a reliance on fast food or
limited time for exercise.

This sudden gain in weight for students has even created a popular nickname, the “freshman 15.”

Stephanie Hanenberg, executive director of the Wellness Center, explained how these habits can lead to students gaining those 15 pounds.

“College students often state that they are so busy between work, going to class, doing homework and trying to find time to be social that they often don’t find the time to exercise or get enough sleep,” said

“This often starts a pattern of unhealthy habits that can be difficult to break.”

One of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle is sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation advocates seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to Hanenberg.

“Research has shown that students perform much better academically if they are well rested versus cramming in studying when they are exhausted.”

“Staying up late and then drinking energy drinks to ‘power through’ can have consequences on grades and a student’s overall health,” said Hanenberg.

But, there are still simple, time-effective steps a student can take in order to maintain their healthy body throughout their time in college, according to Hanenberg.

“Eating a well-balanced diet, getting 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, and staying well hydrated enhance a person’s ability to study and perform better in all areas of life,” said Hanenberg.

Planning out your week is also a way to keep yourself on track.

“Planning ahead for the week by purchasing healthy foods for snacks and meals and using a planner to schedule in exercise amidst all of the other demands can be a great way to stay on track with healthy behaviors,” Hanenberg said.

The on-campus Wellness Center is also available as a resource to any student who needs a hand in staying healthy.

Students can meet with a registered dietician to develop meal plans, find healthy options on campus or to review inexpensive healthy meals on a budget.

The first three visits with the dietitian are free of charge and then $15 after that for appointments, according to Hannenberg.

Junior criminal justice major Lauren Boyce uses the dietician on campus.

“I go and see a nutritionist, so she usually gives me a pretty good, healthy diet to stick to, and helps me stick to it, and keeps me motivated to stick to it,” said Boyce.

Nathaniel Sundquist, a chemistry grad student majoring in chemistry, said he goes the more traditional route to stay in shape in school.

“I’ll usually do one or two runs a week to get some cardio in there. Normally, I try to do one leg workout per week and then one upper body workout per week,” said Sundquist.

Hanenberg outlined another program the campus offers to help students eat healthy for cheap.

“In addition to our dietitian having one-on-one sessions with students, they also offer cooking classes on a regular basis that are open to all students,” Hanenberg said,