Let’s face it: university isn’t easy. From cramming for exams to possibly having to pay rent and put food on the table, there’s simply a lot to deal with. During that whole process of building a bright future for yourself, it’s easy to lose sight of your health. The academic pressure alone can be devastating to an average student’s physical and mental well-being. To cope with all that stress, they become susceptible to developing self-destructive habits.

Some students approach this problem with an “it’s-only-temporary mentality – they know that university isn’t going to last forever, and they’ll make positive lifestyle changes once they graduate.  What they don’t realize, however, is that the decisions they make right now could have devastating effects on their health down the road. Besides, making lifestyle changes for the better later on – such as quitting cigarettes – is a lot more difficult.  So, if you happen to be one of those students, it’s time you stopped taking your health for granted and took the necessary steps to make things better!

5 Ways to Live a Healthy Life at University

Without further ado, here are the 5 ways to stay in shape at university.

1. Sleep Well

They say if you love to sleep, you’re going to hate university! It makes sense, considering there are so many assignments, essays, and tests to deal with. Throw the stress of working a part-time job and maintaining a social life into the mix, and it becomes almost impossible to get the appropriate amount of shuteye.

According to Pro-Papers study, about 700 Colorado State University students reported being sleep-deprived. Lack of sleep not only affects your cognitive functions and the immune system, it’s also associated with a number of other mental and physical complications. The only way to overcome this problem is to sleep more. However, there are certain things you can do to help you sleep, think about exercise, your bed, bamboo bed sheets, a healthy diet and if necessary, see a doctor.

2. Exercise more

An average university student on a tight schedule hardly gets the time to sleep, let alone exercise.  But that’s not a valid excuse to skip a much-needed workout. Not only can a lack of exercise affect your overall health, it may also very well affect your academic performance. So, try to take at least 10-15 minutes out of your daily schedule to exercise (the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise on a weekly basis).

You don’t necessarily have to join a gym – you can exercise right there in the comfort of your bedroom. There are many apps that you can download to help you build a sustainable, at-home workout plan.

This infographic by Women’s Heath shows a quick 20 minute full-body workout that requires no equipment:

Here are some more exercises that you can try:

  1. Push-ups
  2. Reverse lunges
  3. Lateral leg raises
  4. Donkey kicks
  5. Squat jacks
  6. Hip bridges
  7. Bicycle crunches

3. Eat Right

Getting enough sleep and following a daily exercise regime can do wonders for your health. However, if you’re not paying the exact same attention towards your diet – none of that will matter. Eating right is just as important as hitting the bed on time or doing your daily squats and push-ups.

That being said, most university students don’t have the time (or money, for that matter) to put together and follow a diet plan.

This is why so many students fall victim to the “freshman fifteen phenomenon – a term coined in the United States for those who gain an additional (roughly 10-15) pounds during the first year of their university. This could happen due to a lot of reasons, but the obvious culprit is poor diet. Students tend to binge-eat their stresses away, and consume things that they really shouldn’t be. So, pledge now to do something about that diet. Here are some tips on eating healthy:

Don’t skip out on your breakfast – fill that tummy with oats, yogurt, pancakes, and/or fruits before you leave for your morning lecture or job.

If it’s deep-fried, do not try – talk yourself into NOT eating fast food.

Reduce your intake of caffeine and sugar – you don’t need unnecessary jitters to function!

Set fixed times for meals – don’t eat only when you’re free. Instead, designate specific hours of the day for your meals.

4. Focus on your posture

All that studying (and a possible lack of furniture in dorms) may lead to poor posture. Apart from a persistent pain in the back, there are many ways a prolonged poor posture can affect your body, including:

  • Poor circulation of blood
  • Discomfort in neck and shoulder
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sexual performance

So, correct your posture before it’s too late. This infographic by Fresh shows the correct posture while sitting on a desk (although it’s meant for a work-desk, you may still apply it while sitting in a library or your bedroom).

5. Stay hydrated

Last, but not the least, you need to make sure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day (NOTE: coffee, fizzy drinks, and alcohol do not count!) Drink at least 8-10 glasses of good old-fashioned H20 every day. Your organs will thank you for it.

It’s never too late to start living a healthy life. However, the sooner you start – the better. By simply focusing on these 5 things, nothing can stop you from enjoying a healthy university life. Pledge to take better care of your health today!