Expert Strategies for Staying Healthy at College
School, sports, and socializing can wear your body down. Here's how to stay well.
Fight the Flu
Get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is usually available by early October, though you can benefit from a vaccination as late as early December, when there are still several months left in the flu season. This is especially important for college students who are in close quarters with roomies and classmates. Many colleges offer flu shots for free or for a small charge that's typically covered by insurance.
Chug Some Water
Drink plenty of (non-alcoholic) liquids each day, Rosenthal says -- more if you exercise or tend to perspire a lot. Dehydration can make you more vulnerable to illness and infections. By the time you notice you're thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated, so don't get to that point. How much water is enough? If your urine is light yellow, you're well-hydrated. If H2O isn't your thing, don't worry -- juice, tea, and other beverages count as well.
Back Off the Drinks
Drinking too much puts you at risk for accidents, injuries, and regrettable behaviors, not to mention a host of serious conditions from high blood pressure and liver disease to cancer. Stick to the recommended daily limit: no more than two beers or glasses of wine for men, and one for women.
Find Your BFFs
Having someone you can talk to and count on is important for your mental health, and the right friends will encourage healthy habits. Seek out campus groups, play a sport, get to know your dorm mates, and put yourself out there to attract friends who will support you.
Kick the Habit
Even though the risks of smoking -- like heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema -- will elicit a big “duh” from almost any college student, some still light up. If that's you, look into the quit-smoking programs offered by your college wellness center or public health department.
Work Out in Your Dorm Room
No gym? No problem. Melina Christidis, a certified personal trainer in Southern California, designed this full-body strength and conditioning workout. Do it two to three times per week. Three times through the circuit is one workout.
Pushups (25 repetitions): If you can't do a full pushup, or you tire in the middle of the set, you can do them on your knees.
Squat jumps (25 reps): Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Drop your bottom down, shifting your hips back and keeping your back straight and chest lifted. Try to lower to a 90-degree angle, keeping your knees over your ankles. Make sure your knees don't go farther than your toes. After you complete the squat, jump up. Land in the starting position and repeat.
Jumping jacks or jump rope (25 reps): You know the drill!
Plank (1 minute): Get into pushup position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Don't raise your hips up or let them sag. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Work up to 60 seconds.