As a college student, you are pretty darn busy. With classes, social life, extracurriculars, and studies comprising most of your schedule, there’s not much time to sleep, much less focus on staying fit. However, you don’t have to completely sacrifice your time for hours spent at the gym in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle in college. Here’s how. (Can you tell by now that I really like lists?)
- Avoid taking the bus to class if at all possible. Below zero temperatures and ice storms aside, there really is no excuse not to walk to class. As a matter of fact, just about every freshman dorm is situated within a very reasonable walk from your classes. Walking is not just a simple, highly efficient way to burn calories – it has a whole myriad of benefits from reducing the disk of diabetes to alleviating stress. Besides, when you're walking on a campus as beautiful as IU's, you really can't help but be anything other than happy.
- Check out the group exercise classes offered at the SRSC. For those who want an easy alternative to hours spent toiling away at the elliptical or weight machines, here is your solution. Classes range from zumba to kickboxing and all have one thing in common: giving you a killer workout AND a good time. Grab a group of friends and celebrate with some Red Mango across the street afterward. The best part is that as an IU student, the classes are free of charge. Here’s a link to schedules and more information: http://www.iurecsports.org/grp_exercise
- Don’t forget about portion control! When you first walk into Wright or Gresh, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the options. So what do most people do? Have some of everything, of course. This option, while delicious, is not exactly the most forgiving to your waistline. Make a point of hitting the major food groups and making sure that you are eating a balanced meal. Next time you are tempted to fill up your tray with fried chicken, pasta, AND salad doused in ranch dressing, choose one and remember that you have an entire school year to explore your options at the food court. You will get sick of the food very fast if you eat it like this, anyway…. So why not balance it out?
- Also, when you’re at the dining hall, don’t overlook the stuff that’s good for you! RPS has done their best to give students viable healthy eating options. An under-utilized feature on the RPS website is Net Nutrition, which basically helps you plan your meal and view its nutritional content before heading off to eat. You probably won’t have the time or patience to sit at your computer and plan every meal, but it’s a good way to see just how healthy/unhealthy you're really eating.
- When stocking up on snacks for your dorm room, forgo the ramen and candy (trust me, I know that it is hard!) for fruits, nuts, granola bars, and whole-grain breads and cereals. However, if you have a sweet tooth like I do, don’t totally deprive yourself either… enjoy your junk food, but in moderation. For example, it’s perfectly okay to treat yourself with a chocolate bar once in a while, but don’t keep a stock of M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces that would keep even the most struggling candy store afloat in your room, either. That is a potential recipe for disaster.
- Cut back on ranch, ketchup, honey mustard, and other dipping sauces, as these are sneaky, sugary calories that can really add up. Yummy? Of course. Necessary for full enjoyment of your chicken fingers, fries, and pizza? Most certainly. But dousing your food with it? Nope. Remember, less is more!
- Take a HPER class for credit. You can find a class to suit just about any interest, from archery to basketball to yoga. All the classes are graded, so you have another motivation to show up besides wanting to get fit. Not to mention that they are a ton of fun! It might be too late to sign up for one this semester, but here’s a handy list of classes to plan ahead for the next one (scroll down to Physical Activity Instruction Program): http://www.indiana.edu/~bulletin/iub/hper/2010-2012/courses/index.shtml
- Last but not least… get enough sleep! Everyone already knows the health benefits associated with a good night’s rest, but few are aware of the fact that sleep also aids in weight loss and fitness. Multiple studies have shown that lack of sleep can wreck havoc on your body in multiple ways from increasing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease to slowing down your body’s metabolism. As hard as it may be to get the proper amount of shut-eye in college, aim for around 8 hours or so a night.