Although college is an exciting new era in your life, the newfound independence may be bad for your health. At least, if you’re not careful to find balance. Research suggests that first-year college students often neglect their physical health due to the excitement and responsibilities of young adulthood. Unhealthy eating, lack of sleep, and inactivity are common among new college students—due to stress, anxiety, and depression of leaving home, working very hard, and adapting to a different environment. However, health and student wellness are nothing to joke about. Read on for 5 important reasons you must prioritize your health and fitness in college.
Top 5 Reasons You Should Prioritize Health And Fitness In College
- Improve your mental wellness.
When it comes to overall health and student wellness throughout your college life, eating a balanced diet and exercising improve both your physical and mental performance. Considering that overwhelming stress can lead to unhealthy lifestyles during your first year (and may indeed plague your entire college stay), a regular mental wellness practice is an effective way to manage any anxiety and depression from the start.
First, exercising produces a much-needed rush of feel-good endorphins to get the ball rolling. Drinking lots of water and eating nutritious meals will also contribute to your mental resilience, along with other healthy self-care activities such as doing yoga or talking with a counselor. When you eat well and exercise regularly, your body can function better, and negative stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, decrease in your system. As a result, you end up feeling more confident, gain a positive body image, and more importantly, feel in control of your life.
Prioritizing your health and fitness in small ways, such as eating a nutritious breakfast and walking, will spill over into other important areas of your life, like class participation, studying, and catching up with friends. When health and students come first, it will overwhelmingly reward positively your efforts because mental wellness affects physical wellness, and vice versa.
- Increase your social interactions.
If adjusting to college life has left you isolated and feeling more homesick, don’t isolate further. Engaging in more physical activities as a significant part of your health and student wellness priorities will do the opposite. Whether it is biking, hiking, or going to the gym regularly, another benefit of a fitness routine that you enjoy is meeting new people and having more social interaction. Choose a class or activity that meets your objectives and connect with fellow students who share your interests. This has the bonus benefit of keeping you on track, especially on days you aren’t particularly motivated to exercise.
Once you start meeting people in fitness classes, sports clubs, individual sports, and team sports, you won’t need to make new friends partying all the time (although, still, it’s about balance). While genuine connections may start slowly, having a fun routine establishes familiarity with other gym-goers. In time, you’re bound to start conversations and even go out for coffee afterward. Even better, your health and student fitness goals add a structure to your day and life you otherwise wouldn’t have on top of a healthy social life, too.
- Have more energy to succeed.
After you’ve put health and student fitness on top of your list, you should begin to experience more and more positive changes in your day. The first thing you’ll hopefully notice is that you have more energy. That’s because exercising regularly promotes better blood circulation, which leaves you with a clearer mind and body. Studies have found that adults who add moderate aerobic exercise to their routine three times a week feel less exhausted and better ready to face their busy day. Young adults in particular experienced a 20% boost in their energy level with low to moderate physical activity.
Of course, you need to have more energy to get good grades and retain information. While coffee and all-night cramming sessions may seem synonymous with college life–it does not need to be. When you maintain health and student wellness, you can no longer compromise your physical and mental health to maintain a high GPA. The good news is it’s been scientifically proven that getting a good night’s sleep may improve your grades as opposed to pulling an all-nighter. Eating a balanced diet will also help balance your system with proper fuel so you think better.
- See more of your college town.
Getting out to walk around and see your college town is a great way to learn about the area. You will enjoy the community more, and the positive effects will be felt throughout your college life. Make small, sustainable changes to maintain or improve your health during stressful times or in your first year like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to campus. Try to take in the sights while you do.
If your day-to-day physical activities already involve walking to classes and your work-study job–it’s all good! Health and student wellness don’t take that much effort, even with your overwhelming college schedule. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly to meet your goal. And anything exceeding that will only contribute to better health in the future. Combine that with a fun activity (like checking out a new coffee shop), or one that you already need to complete (like dry-cleaning your interview suit), and you can knock out two tasks at once.
- Stay healthy and fit for the rest of your life.
When you prioritize health and student fitness in college, you develop good habits that will last you the rest of your life. Don’t wait until life is less stressful to focus on your health, like many students do. Start during your freshman year. Besides, life after college can remain stressful due to additional responsibilities such as career, relationships, and debt. By learning how to eat better and use exercise to relieve stress now, you are well-equipped to deal with problems that are bound to come along positively.
Although experiencing freedom for the first time in college can begin an unhealthy lifestyle, prioritizing your health and fitness will likewise assert your real independence. Choose health and student wellness to show you’ve truly matured since high school when you had less freedom and your eating habits and physical activity may not have been foremost on your mind. Your first year in college may be a tempting time to pull all-nighters, eat whatever you want, and even experiment with alcohol and drugs to prove your independence. However, when you show self-control by having balanced, healthy habits, you are showing true autonomy that’ll last a lifetime.
Prioritizing Health And Fitness In College Is Prioritizing You
While going to college means caring about your grades and future, you mustn’t neglect your health and student well-being. Yes, how you do in college will affect whether you graduate and what kind of job you’ll have in the future (check out Empowerly for more on this), but staying healthy will affect you for a lifetime. So, making your diet, exercise, and mental health a priority is also making yourself a priority.