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Exercise & Diet in College

By Carly Schuna

For busy and active college students who are often stressed and short on sleep, proper exercise and healthy diets are critical. According to the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Health Service, a survey of 302 college students at a large university revealed that only 39 percent exercised three or more times per week, and 76 percent ate the same foods each day.

Stressed and Depressed

When college students don’t get enough exercise or eat healthy diets, they don’t look and feel their best. College is a demanding time, and many students struggle to balance their workloads with their social lives and private schedules. Neglecting to eat well and exercise regularly can leave students feeling tired, stressed, depressed and susceptible to illness and weight gain.

Good Diet, Good Mood

Getting regular exercise helps boost your mood and improve your quality of sleep. It also reduces the risk of some severe health problems and plays an important role in weight management, about which many college students are concerned. A healthy diet has similarly beneficial effects. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders notes that eating healthy, well-balanced meals that primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products helps your body stay in peak condition and may even help you concentrate better.

Fruits and Veggies

Fresh fruits and vegetables have some of the best nutritional profiles of all foods, and college students should strive to include them in every meal and make them first choices as snacks. As you increase the variety of fruits and vegetables that you eat, you’ll also increase the variety of nutrients and vitamins you receive from them. Getting healthy servings of many different nutrients helps the body function at its best, so it’s important for college students to make an effort to diversify their diets and increase the amount of fresh foods they eat on a daily basis.

Sports and Snacks

Students should aim for a varied, healthy diet and meeting the American College of Sports Medicine’s physical activity guidelines of at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise or one hour of vigorous exercise per week. Exercising with friends, walking to classes and errands instead of driving, scheduling time for a favorite sport, planning out meals and snacks and keeping fresh foods handy can all help students reach those goals.

Slow Down and Sprint

For many college students, balancing different aspects of their lives is a struggle, as is finding extra time. Rather than eating meals on the go, HelpGuide.org recommends that students take time to enjoy meals, eat with others and chew food thoroughly, all of which can help with weight management and nutrient retention. Students who are pressed for time can attempt to balance exercise with other activities by doing brief, high-intensity interval workouts, fitting in short bursts or exercise throughout the day or choosing exercises that don’t require a gym and special equipment.

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