Stay rested, stay clean, stay fit … such is the wisdom that nurse practitioner Alice Gallagher of University of Pennsylvania’s Student Health Services imparts to the sick, stressed girls who flood her office each semester. Yet while we collegiettes are smart enough to know the importance of sleep, exercise and a balanced diet, busy days of classes combined with late nights spent papering and partying don’t always make staying healthy so simple. But even if you can’t totally commit to abstaining from the occasional all-nighter or passing up all the parties, there are a few key healthy tips worth taking. For girls looking to avoid Swine ’09, rock those midterms and stay in one piece amid that mid-semester crunch, Her Campus presents the 2009 How To Stay Healthy Awards.
BEST WAY TO NOT CATCH EVERYONE ELSE’S COLDS AT A PARTY
It’s for your own good.
WINNER: Hoard your drinks. Sharing does not in fact equal caring. It equals swine flu, which does not equal A+ on your stat exam. Contrary to popular belief, the old water in which you dip a beer pong ball does not magically sanitize the cups. If you’re drinking alcohol, you’re already potentially getting dehydrated and lowering your immune system, so help everyone out by using your own shot glasses and keeping your germy cocktails to yourself. Also note that the recommended alcohol intake for a female is one drink in a 24-hour period. Just saying…
RUNNER-UP: Don’t make out with anyone, especially sniffly strangers. Colds travel through saliva, and saliva travels through kissing. If we were unrealistic scientists instead of myopic college kids, this would clearly be the “winner,” but what fun is that? However, when he assures you that his runny, red nose is a result of allergies and you have a history exam the next day, find someone less snotty and more attractive.
BEST WAY TO RELIEVE FRIED-BRAIN SYNDROME
Tim Riggins endorses taking a permanent break from the books.
WINNER: Take a break from the books. Just stop. Find a walking buddy and take a stroll around campus, bake some cookies or catch up on last week’s episode of Gossip Girl or, better yet, Friday Night Lights. Just like you need rest to function, so does your brain. Gallagher suggests retail therapy to her flustered patients (seriously).
RUNNER-UP: Skip the vending machine munchies and eat a serving of brain food – some apple slices and all-natural peanut butter, potassium-packed bananas and mixed nuts, carrots and hummus or anything else high in antioxidants, Omega-3 or healthy fats that satisfy the stomach and fuel the mind.
BEST WORKOUT FOR YOUR STUDY BREAK
Michael Phelps does marijuana during his study breaks. But when he isn’t getting high, he also recommends interval training.
WINNER: Try interval training. Olympians swear by it, people. Do continuous sets of 15 crunches, pushups and jumping jacks – as many as you can over a five-minute period (so about two songs on your iPod). Break for five minutes and do another set.
RUNNER-UP: If you’re stuck at the library and don’t want to be a calisthenics freak outside the gym, find the heaviest book around and lug it up and down the stairs a few times – you’ll feel the burn and look pretty intellectual carrying around such a big book.
BEST WAY TO KICK ASS IN CLASS
This is what happens when you Google image search for “too much caffeine.”
WINNER: Eat a filling, fibrous breakfast and don’t OD on coffee. This one is obvious but oh-so important and overlooked. A breakfast filled with fruit, oatmeal, low-fat yogurt and low-sugar cereals provides your body with whole grains, flax, antioxidants and probiotics that will jumpstart your metabolism and fuel your mind. Loads of water will also wake you up. Caffeine, however, will make you jitter and crash.
RUNNER-UP: Help yourself and your peers and form a strategic study group. College courses are awesome and you should always try to attend and get your money’s worth, but let’s be real – there are definitely those moments when making it to a 9 a.m.100-person lecture in which the professor doesn’t take attendance simply isn’t going to happen. So instead of trying to be a one-woman wonder, enlist some friends plus that cute guy in the flannel shirt in the second row to compile reading summaries and class notes. Come exam time, you’ll be equipped with a complete set of notes, some new study buddies and a few more hours of sleep. Just make sure you’re working within your school’s academic policies.
Sponsors: Alice Gallagher, Nurse Practitioner, University of Pennsylvania Student Health Services Valentine Reed-Johnson, Dietetics Major, University of Delaware