Many wonder how they can stay fit as broke college students. Individuals often experience a substantial change in their fitness levels while attending the first year of college. This overall shift is primarily due to the intense changes in workload, participation in sports, and nutritional profiles. So, to combat it, all three aspects must be addressed—mental, physical, and nutritional. Here are five great ways to stay fit and focused during the semester and beyond.
1. Practice Mindful Eating
One of the biggest contributors to declining fitness among college students is poor eating habits. Especially if they attend university at 18, they have no framework for self-management and often only a minimal grasp of how to meet their basic nutritional needs. Combined with longer sedentary periods, a sharp decline in physical activity, and the natural stress that accompanies college classes, students may notice that this spurs sudden weight gain. One way to minimize this is mindful eating. Make consciously healthy choices, be aware of portion control, and limit fried and sugary foods to occasional indulgences.
2. Join Clubs and Intramural Activities
Most college students have an operating budget of approximately zero dollars when it comes to paying for activities, gym fees, and other traditional ways to maintain fitness. The excellent news is that tuition fees now help to support a long roster of student activities. New students can make friends and work up a sweat in a friendly, social setting. According to the Student Health Services Center at Rutgers University, which offers a host of suggestions that can be applied on any campus, joining a sports team is a great way to reduce stress and increase physical well-being.
3. Keep Healthy Snack on Hand
College life sometimes seems to be a Venn Diagram of sleep deprivation, intense mental activity, and junk food. Yes, students will spend long hours studying for exams or working on papers and projects. Since the brain runs on glucose, this can make for some interesting late-night cravings. But often, the food that is available—delivered, purchased from vending machines, or sourced from convenience stores—is far from the best in terms of its nutritional profile. This leads to weight gain, sluggish feelings, and other marks of declining overall fitness. The best way to combat this is to have healthy snacks that appeal ready to go. Another benefit of purchasing snacks ahead of time is financial. It will save money in the long run.
4. Weave Activity Into Routine
Western culture has made a number of unfortunate choices, including the fact that many are taught to see exercise as a brutal punishment, something that is done to chastise a person for not conforming to a slender body image. One of the best ways to deprogram this terrible concept is to weave activity into a daily routine. For the schedule lovers on campus, this can mean blocking out time during the week and on weekends to work out, take a walk, join a group for a hike, or play a sport. It’s actually best if these activities are interspersed between long periods of sedentary class time since it will sharpen focus and improve information retention.
5. Be Aware of Sleep
This culture is taught to boast about sleep deprivation, but recent studies suggest that it’s nothing to be proud of. In fact, it may be one of the leading factors contributing to several cancers, degenerative mental disorders, and heart disease. Don’t be “that guy.” Get enough sleep each night. It will improve performance in class, enhance emotional resilience, and improve physical health since a rested body processes nutrients more efficiently. Plus, sleep is free.
While the list above covers the general bases, it’s by no means exhaustive. Each person should tailor their plan to their needs and personal life preferences. At the end of the day, there are many ways to stay fit as a broke college student, and every individual can build a routine to enjoy vigorous health.