15 Health Hacks for College Students

Editor, Carnegie Communications

College students tend to be lucky enough to have awesome gyms and fitness centers right on campus. But students also tend to be blessed with tons of late-night pizza shops and all-you-can-eat waffle bars in the caf. Fortunately, staying in shape doesn’t have to be that hard or even expensive. Keep your mind, your body, and your wallet healthy with these tips:

  1. Hit the gym. Okay, this is a pretty obvious one, but in case you haven’t investigated the fitness facilities at your school, take a look! They’re often on par or better than professional gyms and almost certainly free or silly cheap to enrolled students. And if your school doesn’t have a gym, look into student discounts at those nearby.   
  2. Sleep! Make sure you get enough hours (seven to eight per night) of quality sleep.
  3. Get good groceries. If you’re living off campus and/or otherwise cooking for yourself, remember that foods like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, garlic, and raisins are particularly high in nutrients and tend to be low in cost.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Ask a friend to help you stay on track in your diet and exercise regimen. Go to the dining hall and gym together if you can; you can compete for the most reps—or they can slap that extra slice of pizza out of your hand.
  5. Lower your levels. Particularly your intake of salt and sugar. Buy low-sodium versions of your favorite foods, cut back on the sweets (and remember that there can be a surprising amount of sugar in a surprising number of foods!), and eat better overall by making simple meals consisting of fresh ingredients.
  6. Make time. Stay stress-free by carving out time to hang out with friends, even when you’re busy. Meditating for 10 minutes a day can also keep stress levels low.
  7. Get moving. Thirty to 60 minutes of daily activity, whether running around a track, taking a yoga class, or just walking to a store, can make a big difference in your overall health.
  8. Step away from the console. Studies have shown that video games can negatively affect your relationships, self-image, and health. Instead of nightly "Call of Duty: Black Ops," maybe just on the weekends? Okay, every other night?
  9. Join the team. Even if you’re not a varsity letterman, join a campus or even community club/intramural team. Judo, rugby—hell, you can even join a Quidditch team!
  10. Set simple goals. Instead of a lofty target (like dropping 30 pounds in three months), aim for something a little more accessible. It may seem counterintuitive, but research says you’re more likely to stick to—and achieve—bite-sized goals. And you can track your progress with the many apps out there for beginner fitness, like couch-to-5k trainers, push-up challenges, etc.
  11. Clean. Tidying up your half-of-a-closet-sized dorm might not be so great of a workout, but if you have an apartment or suite, take the time to really make it shine. It burns more calories than you think!
  12. Pick different prizes. If you’re inclined to reward yourself with, say, a candy bar after acing a test or knocking out a solid study session, consider switching to non-food-related prizes (new book, pair of sunglasses, etc.).   
  13. Hydrate. In addition to sipping on plain ol’ water throughout the day, chug a glass before every meal. It can prevent you from overeating!
  14. Snack smart. Pre-pack a couple of healthy, easy, grab-and-go snacks when you can, such as carrot, celery, or cucumber sticks; granola/cereal bars; and fruit like apples, bananas, and oranges.
  15. Take the stairs. Really, go the long route in general. If you can walk, why take the campus shuttle or city bus, ya know?

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