By: Jocelyn Jaye, University Recreation & Wellness Group Fitness Instructor
College is a great time to start building healthy habits we’ll carry with us long after graduation. Here are 5 simple healthy habits that have made a difference in my life that you might consider incorporating into yours. I think you’ll find they add up to make a big difference in your health and well-being!
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier.
Plan for the day! Giving yourself a few extra minutes in the early AM allows you to prepare for the day ahead. Maybe indulge in some meal prepping, savor that hot cup of coffee, or simply make sure that you have all your supplies for the day. The worst thing is arriving to your first class, only to realize that you forgot your calculator or laptop because you were rushing out the door.
And, oh my gosh, please eat breakfast. If you do nothing else, eat some food in the morning. This still applies even if you had a midnight Slices run and you feel bloated and gross. Some OJ, a banana, or even a piece of toast with avocado are all light, healthy options to get your system moving.
Statistics show that eating breakfast not only gives you energy for the day, but it can even boost your academic performance. A study conducted at Blinn College in Texas found that 72.7% of the students who passed their General Biology exam had eaten breakfast. Only 50.8% of students who had not eaten breakfast passed the exam (Phillips 2005). Get your brain and body ready for the day by firing up your digestion.
- Move before noon!
Wake up your body with some movement! My absolute favorite way to start the day is with a short jog somewhere nice. The world is quiet, the sun is rising, and Route One is not yet buzzing with morning commuter traffic. There is something so magical about being a part of the new day. If that seems a little too intense for our night owls, some simple stretches or even a few jumping jacks are a great way to get your blood flowing. Sun Salutations, anyone?
Did you know that exercising in the morning can actually provide you with more energy throughout the day? This is because exercises stimulates the development of new mitochondria in your cells. Mitochondria work to produce ATP, or energy. Not only is mitochondria production increased in your muscles, but also in your brain (Steiner 2011)!
Now, I love coffee as much as the next person and, though there are countless controversies over whether or not the sacred bean is actually good for us, anything in too large of quantities can be harmful. Before reaching for the coffee, try out some exercise! If you still feel like taking a nap afterwards, grab some café!
- Set a bedtime… and actually stick to it.
I know, I know … we aren’t 12 anymore and it sounds lame, but we are kind of adults now and it is our own responsibility to log off and get some sleep. It is SO easy to stay up until 2am every night watching Netflix, but Netflix is not going to drag your sorry booty to your 8am class the next day. Part of our college experience is developing a sense of responsibility, which means setting boundaries.
- Do NOT over schedule yourself!
Speaking of boundaries, create some for your schedule! Yes, you could do everything… BUT you probably wouldn’t be feeling your best if you did. It is OK to say “no” to things that either (1.) you really do not want to do, or (2.) really do not fit in your schedule. Someone else will do these things. I promise. The world will go on. I promise. It doesn’t always have to be you. Your health and well-being is your number one priority. Always.
- Plan time for fun and relaxation.
You heard me right. TREAT YO-SELF. Okay, seriously though, you are going to need some sort of outlet from class, studying, your job, clubs, sports, etc. Instead of spending both weekend nights stuck in McKeldin, leave an hour earlier, take a hot bath, and listen to your favorite music. De-stressing is just as important for productivity as being stressed.
If hot baths aren’t your thing, spend quality time with your friends! Go indulge in some dinner activities (or some post-dinner activities) with people you enjoy being around. Forget about your Microbio exam for a few hours and just enjoy yourself! After all, we are human beings, not robots, and we cannot work all the time. Work hard. Relax hard. You deserve it.
There you have it – 5 simply healthy habits to incorporate into your daily life. What healthy habit would you add to this list?