Health and Fitness for Busy College Students

It’s no secret that college students are busy. Finding time for exercise while balancing classes and work can be daunting, but fitness is important for overall mental and physical health. Studies show that regular exercise improves memory and thinking, regulates sleeping patterns, and boosts self-esteem. College is stressful, but staying healthy shouldn’t be.

Health and fitness aren’t reliant on gym equipment. Not only are gyms expensive, but many people refrain from going because they feel as though they need to dedicate a large portion of their time in order to feel results. Exercise can happen anywhere, and you don’t need to sacrifice your leisure time to stay fit. Making a few small lifestyle changes can dramatically improve your health and fitness, without ever stepping foot in a gym (unless you want to).


1. Grocery Shop With a Friend

The easiest way reach health and fitness goals is by eating clean. It can be tempting to reach for a bag of Doritos on your next trip to the grocery store, but going with a friend who knows about your health goals can be a motivator to walk away from the chip aisle. If you let them know your intentions beforehand, they can verbally remind you of them when you’re feeling moments of weakness. I’m not saying you have to cut out junk food completely, but instead you should swap processed foods for healthier options. If you eat a lot of bread and pasta, try opting for whole wheat versions.


2. Walk Everywhere You Can

Who doesn’t want to save money on gas and parking? A nice thing about most college campuses is that they’re designed with pedestrians in mind and contain resources within reasonable walking distance. Walking is not only an easy form of exercise, but the fresh air promotes alertness while giving you time to reflect on yourself. It also offers space to listen to music through headphones while allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of campus. If you can’t walk to your destination, always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if you only have one flight of stairs to walk, any movement adds up!


3. Carry a Reusable Water Bottle

Having a drink on hand can stop you from buying sugary drinks in the vending machine. Not only are reusable water bottles eco-friendly, but they can help you keep track of your daily water intake. Studies show that drinking water throughout the day helps curb cravings and it makes you feel full longer. If you’re looking to lose weight or simply feel more energized, replacing any drink with water will prove beneficial.


4. Lightly Exercise or Stretch during TV Commercials

Relaxing in front of the TV after a long day is a vice for many of us— and for good reason. Passive activity gives us something to do without really having to do anything. However, if you plan to get a few episodes of your favorite TV show in before you start your homework, you might end up feeling less energized than you did before. Most people scroll through their phones during commercials, but it’s a perfect time to fit in a light exercise. You can relax while watching the show, but for the few minutes that commercials are running it’s important to move around so you don’t feel lethargic. Holding planks, doing squats or sit ups can be done right in your living room and the increased blood flow will help improve brain function.


5. Season Food with Spices Instead of Salt

Salt retains water, which can make you feel bloated. Cutting down on your sodium intake won’t necessarily make a physical change, but too much of it is bad for the heart and can increase blood pressure in excess. Most table salt contains iodine, a necessary nutrient for the thyroid gland, so you don’t need to get rid of it completely. You can replace that extra dash of salt with a plethora of spices without sacrificing flavor. When you find a spice that you love, google healthy recipes that involve it, and you’ll be more intrigued to cook at home instead of getting sodium-filled takeout.


At the end of the day, health and fitness is about how you feel and not about you look. Listen to your body and do what feels right for it.