Staying Healthy During the College Years
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
We associate a lot of things with college: wild parties, newfound freedom, tiny dorm rooms and hopefully, an excellent education. But most people don’t generally pair college and healthy living. If you’re worried about how your new college student will fare when they leave the nest for college, you’re not alone. But don’t worry; here are some ideas to pass on in hopes of keeping your new college student in good health.
Make Fitness Part of the Plan
If your college-bound kids play sports but aren’t necessarily interested or able to play for their school, encourage them to join intramural teams, form an informal club with friends or include fitness classes in their schedule. It may be hard for new college students to choose to include exercise in their schedule when no one is monitoring their choices. But joining even a casual group for regular games can give kids a sense of responsibility to show up.
Send them to school with a bike instead of a car. They may not be playing basketball anymore but if they’re walking or biking to class, they’ll be getting some exercise during the day.
Plan a summer vacation they will want to look great for. Every 17-year-old is going to want to look great in a swimsuit, and if they know a week or two in the sun is in their future they may be more apt to stop by the gym or blaze around the track every morning.
Make a mutual exercise pact and check in on each other. You can’t really justify harping on your child’s exercise habits at college if you’re a couch potato. Find an app you can both use for motivation, like one of these, and you’ll both be healthier for it.
A Better Meal Plan
Be sure to send your college-bound kids off to their institutions of higher learning with adequate nutritional knowledge. Make sure they understand what makes up a healthy diet, and if you need a refresher, here’s a good one.
Teach them how to cook. Your student may be going off to college with a meal plan that starts at the dorm cafeteria, but before either of you know it, they’ll need to know how to cook for themselves. You can hardly blame a kid for getting every meal at the local burger joint if they don’t know what to do with a head of broccoli or a bag of rice.
Didn’t have time to pass on your culinary skills? Encourage your student to add a cooking class to their schedule before they leave the dorms for their first apartment. Even a basic class can set them up for years of healthier meals.
Let’s Sleep On It
It’s pretty doubtful that you’ll have any control over when your college student hits the hay or for how long, but it may be helpful to offer reminders of how great it can feel to have a good night’s sleep. There are plenty of studies that show adequate sleep aids cognition, which means that when they’re preparing for a big test, they would be better off getting in 8 hours of shut-eye than 8 hours of cramming. This helpful graphic should give at least a little power of persuasion.
And If They Won’t Listen to You…
Try sending them some of these resources:
Healthy Eating Habits for College Students
College Students’ Unhealthy Habits Can Mark their Future
The 8 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective College Students
If, after all, you find your college student’s health less than ideal, we’re here to help. You don’t need an appointment; just stop in and we’ll take care of whatever ails your young scholar.