Simple Tips To Stay in Shape at College
By Samantha Clayton, Senior Director, Worldwide Sports Performance & Fitness and Susan Bowerman,
M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.O.W.M., F.A.N.D., Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training
Thousands of college freshmen are swarming campuses this month, facing a host of adjustments to new schools, schedules and academic challenges. While research shows the average weight gain during that first year away from home isn’t typically the ‘freshman fifteen’ but more in the range of 2 to 9 pounds, it is still important for students to find ways to be active, reduce stress and maintain a healthy eating plan. Whether it’s in the dorm or in between classes, here are some tips to help you squeeze in daily activity and eat well.
Start walking to class: Walking can help you burn calories, improve muscle tone and reduce stress. Using a simple pedometer that clips to your waistband is a great way to monitor your daily walking activity. A healthy goal to try and reach is 10,000 steps per day.
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Climb stairs on campus: Climbing stairs is great for improving your cardiovascular fitness level. Plus, it works all of the muscles in the back of the legs and butt. If you can’t find a good set of stairs to climb, do step-ups instead. Aim to do the equivalent of 50 stairs per day.
Find a fitness deal: Many colleges have recreational sports leagues and offer discounted gym memberships or fitness classes. Also, look online for a program that allows you to try a variety of local fitness classes at a discounted price.
Learn a few moves: Perform body weight resistance exercises, such as simple squats, lunges and push-ups in your dorm or wherever you live. When you’re ready, you can progress to using weights. If you know how to do the basics, any time you have just a few minutes to spare you can maximize your time by getting stronger with simple exercises. There are lots of exercise routines that you can do for free online when you have a little more time.
Snack well: Whole fruits, protein bars, sticks of string cheese and cartons of yogurt are easy to carry and can be lifesavers when you get hungry and when fast food or vending machines are calling to you. Avoid empty calories and opt for nutrient-dense foods that are essential when you’re stressed and busy.
Don’t skip meals: When you’re super-busy, it’s hard to make time to shop and prepare meals. But nutritious meals will support the mental energy needed to perform well in class. And, getting overly hungry often leads to overeating later on. When you’re pressed for time, whip up a protein shake for quick, on-the-go nutrition.
Watch beverage calories: Alcoholic beverages are high in calories, but you can guzzle a lot of calories from non-alcoholic sodas and fruit drinks, too. Instead, aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water or plain tea per day – and even more if it’s hot or you’re exercising.
Beware of stress eating. The stresses of adjusting to life on your own can lead to turning to food for comfort. If you catch yourself eating out of stress rather than hunger, call a family member or friend, or take a walk instead.
If you stick to a healthy routine and squeeze in these tips, you’ll sail through the busy school season healthier and happier