Maintaining Your Physical Health
Maintaining Your Physical Health
Martin Novak /

It’s very easy to slide into bad habits when you’re living on your own for the first time. From taking the elevator because it’s more convenient to eating doughnuts for breakfast, you have a lot of freedom. Maintaining your physical health is important and not terribly hard to do. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, get regular exercise (anything from biking to and from class to taking the stairs when you could take the elevator), and eat balanced meals each day. If you do get sick or injured, know where to go and have a first aid kit on hand in case you need a quick fix.

Before you get sick the first time, it’s important to learn what medical services your college offers. Find a local doctor, know what the campus health clinic can do in case of illness or if you need preventative care, and know how to get to the local urgent care facility or emergency room in case something happens over the weekend or after hours. It’s never a bad idea to have a first aid kit in your dorm room for illnesses and minor scrapes that you can take care of yourself.

It can be overwhelming to work exercise into your life if you’re busy with classes, homework, and extracurriculars, but the health benefits of regular exercise are numerous. Instead of slogging away on the treadmill, try joining an intramural sports team, like frisbee or soccer, or take a physical education course that meets two or three times a week. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore and could be as simple as biking or walking to the grocery store every time you need snacks.

As a college student, you need to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night to feel and perform your best the next day. When you’re busy with test prep, comedy shows, and actual classes, this can be hard to attain, and your health and academics may suffer as a result. To ensure quality sleep, skip caffeine in the afternoons and evenings, drop the cigarette habit, don’t try to pull an all-nighter, and leave your computer and phone on your desk. Making your bed a sacred sleeping place will help you get the best rest.

Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t just important for people who are trying to slim down, but for anyone who wants to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, the dining hall isn’t the best place to eat routinely healthy meals, nor are many of the fast food options often offered near college campuses. The government provides guidelines for daily food servings; following them is possible on a meal plan, but it’s easier if you cook for yourself. Regardless of whether you choose to mix and match what is being offered at multiple dining hall stations or cook your own meals, a balanced diet is important.

If you already suffer from food allergies, you can work with your college to find a meal plan that fits your needs. This may involve getting off the college meal plan entirely and being able to cook for yourself or working with dining hall chefs to create a menu that doesn’t include your allergens. Consider working with a nutritionist and the office of residential life to create a plan that doesn’t put you in danger and doesn’t inhibit your college experience.

If you suffer from a chronic illness, it’s important to know how you will continue to manage your illness once you arrive on campus. Know what resources your school offers so that you know when you must rely on off-campus facilities. Talk to the dean of students about the possibility of bringing a car if you know that you’ll need to drive to appointments, and talk to the disability office and your professors to make sure that your academics, housing, and overall college experience don’t suffer as a result of your illness.