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Avoid the ‘Freshmen 15’ – Tips to Stay Healthier in College

For most colleges around the United States, this is the time of year where students are prepping to begin their fall semester of classes. Whether it’s your first time away from home or your third time enrolling as a student, staying healthy at college can be a challenge – especially when you toss in busy schedules, limited budgets and tons of germs.

Tips for Good Health in College

This semester, we’re encouraging you to stay healthy by following some of these tips:

#1 – Get vaccinated!

College students who are at least 18+ should make sure that all of their vaccinations are up to date. In most cases, your college will tell you what vaccinations are necessary- especially if you’re a new student. In some cases, depending on what state you’re attending college in, additional vaccinations may be required.

#2 – Practice healthy hygiene.

Whether you’re living on campus or off campus, dorms, classrooms, cafeterias, and public transportation all carry tons of germs. Give yourself a head start at beating germs by keeping your personal items and living space clean. On a budget? It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to do this. Invest in simple cleaning supplies, such as: antibacterial/disinfectant wipes or regular paper towel combined with Pine-Sol or another all-purpose cleaner.

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#3 – Eat healthy on a budget.

Most college students are on a pretty tight budget, and when you throw in late-night study sessions, parties, dining hall buffets and zero parental control, all dietary control can go right out the window. Here are some important tips and information to help you eat healthier while on a limited budget.

Stay hydrated…with water.

Why?

  • It lowers your risk of dehydration.
  • It staves off hunger.
  • It aids in digestion.
  • It relieves fatigue.
  • It helps to flush out toxins.
  • It helps with overall body function (remember that nearly every cell in your body depends on water in order to function properly!)

Swap the sweets for fruit.

Why?

  • It’s affordable.
  • It’s a convenient snack (ex: grapes, berries, apple slices, etc.).
  • It’s readily available (in dining halls or at local stores).
  • It’s loaded with vitamins & minerals.
  • It’s low in calories.

Reduce your alcohol intake.

Why?

  • It packs on the calories, which can lead to weight gain.
  • It can encourage unhealthy eating (Skip the drive-thru & opt for healthy snacks instead).
  • It contains little to no nutritious calories.
  • It can lead to other poor decision making.
  • It’ll save you money!

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Take advantage of dining halls.

Dining halls can be your best or worst enemy when it comes to food choices, so make these smart choices:

  • Practice portion control. Don’t fight stress with food!
  • Fill up at the salad bar first.
  • Skip the soda & opt for water or lower calorie beverages.
  • Avoid breaded or fried food.
  • Aim for a colorful plate of nutrient-dense food, such as fruits, veggies and a protein.
  • Vary your meals to keep things interesting.
  • Don’t skip meals!

#4 – Exercise your creativity.

More than 70 percent of American adults ages 20 and older are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understandably, not everyone is a seasoned athlete, nor does the idea of “going for a run” appeal to everyone.

Instead, get creative with your cardio. Join a kickball league or take time to go for a walk with a friend. Explore nearby greenways and opt to bike to class versus take public transportation.

#5 – Don’t skimp on sleep.

Occasional study cram sessions are one thing, but don’t make a habit out of staying up until all hours of the morning. Sleep/rest is an important part of your overall physical health. Sleep is a key factor in allowing your body to heal and repair itself. Studies have shown that repeat sleep offenders are at a greater risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. The bottom line? Make sleep a priority!

Little changes can make a big impact in your exercise goals and keeping off unnecessary weight gain during your college years.

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Find a Primary Care Provider Near You

College is a great time to establish a relationship with a primary care provider. At WakeMed, we offer plenty of primary care locations, convenient to the major universities and community colleges throughout Wake County, NC.

Find a primary care provider near you!

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