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Wondering How to Stay Fit in College? Here Are 5 Tips

woman at the gym choosing music to listen to on her phone
If your class schedule often leaves you pressed for time, why not multitask? You can listen to an online lecture while walking on the treadmill!

by Steven Auger

Many folks will tell you that college was the best four years of their lives. New friends, new experiences, and a lot of newfound freedom can make time on campus very exciting, to say the least.

While getting out from under your parents' roof can be a great feeling, remember, everything now falls on you! This includes taking care of your health and well-being. Here are five tips around how to stay fit in college while still prioritizing your studies.

1. Make a Plan

Between classes, schoolwork, socializing, work, and everything else that is part of the college experience, students are extremely busy. If you don't make an effort to focus on physical fitness, it can easily get lost in the shuffle. So, the fact that you are reading this article and taking steps toward maintaining your health is an accomplishment in and of itself!

To keep your health a priority, take some time to plan a workout schedule at the start of each semester, once you know your class schedule. This will help you identify when you have periods of free time — morning, night, before class, or after class — where you can squeeze in a trip to the gym.

2. Remember, Nutrition Matters

Proper nutrition can be another challenge for students — but it's a necessity when you're learning how to stay fit in college. Given everything you're juggling on campus, it's not uncommon to eat on the go, skip breakfast, or eat very late at night.

The key? Choosing healthy foods as often as possible. It can be tempting to indulge (given the endless supply of food in the school's dining hall), but it's all about balance. It's OK to treat yourself here and there, but those foods shouldn't become your main staples. Remember, the body needs a balanced diet of fresh whole foods to properly fuel working hard in the gym and working hard in class!

Also, try to avoid skipping breakfast and don't forget to hydrate. It's important that you fuel up in the morning and drink your fair share of water. This way, you'll stay energized and hydrated throughout your busy day, night, and during your workout.

3. Get Creative and Multitask

If your class schedule often leaves you pressed for time, why not multitask? You can sneak some studying in at the gym if you're crafty. For instance, you can read your assigned chapters or study for a quiz as you pedal away on the stationary bike. Listening to an online lecture while walking on the treadmill is another great use of your time (you can also record your professors' lectures in-person to review later at the gym). You can even bring a class notebook to the gym and review that day's lecture notes while on the elliptical. Power up your brain as you build those muscles!

4. Use the Gym as an Escape

A lot of people — students included — tend to use the gym as their sanctuary. It provides a place where they can go to work out whatever is currently causing them stress. It's no secret that academics can be overwhelming at times. So, put the power of the gym to work for you by sweating out deadline-induced stress. Before you know it, you'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next assignment!

Exercise isn't just good for your health. It also cranks up your brain power! According to the Harvard Health Blog, aerobic exercise provides a brain boost when it comes to verbal memory and learning. Just 120 minutes a week of moderate activity — walking, swimming, or tennis, to name a few — helps improve a person's memory. Something you'll thank yourself for as you sit down to take your next exam!

5. Bring a Workout Buddy

Just like having your friends by your side during a tough study session can help motivate you, having them by your side during a workout can do the same! The gym is a great place to meet and make new friends while improving your health.

Even the most dedicated of gym-goers contemplate skipping a workout every so often. But what if your workout buddy was also your study buddy? Between sets and squats, you can quiz each other to prepare for upcoming exams. It's all about working to make yourself better, just like you do in the classroom. A dependable workout buddy offers a ton of benefits, including someone to provide some healthy competition as you both work to improve your health.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.