Gaining a significant chunk of weight in your first year of college is easy to do. For starters, there are not always many healthy food options that are actually appealing in the dining halls. If you’re broke (as many college students are), fatty fast food and Ramen noodles are the cheapest choices available. Not to mention many students get in the habit of stress-eating when cramming for exams and adapting to living in new surroundings. Even with all these challenges, gaining the Freshman 15 is not inevitable. You can make choices today that can help you stay in shape instead of packing on the pounds.
First, realize that no matter what fad diet gurus and exercise equipment commercials have told you, there’s only one way to lose weight — you must burn more calories than you consume. The good news is there’s lots of ways college students can burn calories; you’re not pigeonholed in to one type of exercise. Healthy adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, e.g. brisk walking, each week, and should work out major muscle groups twice a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another option is to get 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week, such as jogging or running, coupled with muscle-strengthening workouts two days a week, the CDC recommends.
One of the best things you can do to meet these recommendations is take advantage of your university’s gym facilities. Your university’s gym will have equipment that will help you get both the aerobic exercise (cardio) you need, as well as the strength training you need. If you get bored easily on gym equipment, you can take advantage of exercise classes available at your university, which might include aerobics, yoga, cycling, Pilates, kickboxing and more. Many students find that the camaraderie they find in group classes helps them stay dedicated to exercising consistently.
However, not everyone’s a gym-rat and not every college has gym facilities. Going for regular bike rides, runs, jogs or brisk walks will do the trick to get your heart rate up and burn off calories. In bad weather, college students can often work out in their dorm or apartment using their laptop and a workout DVD. Some college libraries even have exercise DVDs that students can check out to stay in shape. Joining an intramural sports team is also a great way to stay active.
In conclusion, remember that staying away from certain unhealthy college staples like sodas, pizza and cheeseburgers is also an important element of staying in shape. Educate yourself on healthy eating, and make a decision to choose healthy options in the dining halls. Also, look online for nutrition information on the foods available in the dining halls. Your body will certainly thank you for giving it the right fuel it needs to thrive, and you will stand a better chance of fending off the Freshman 15.
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