College is full of endless opportunities for students to expand their horizons.
Unfortunately, according to the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for College Health and Safety, this growth includes “social and sexual pressures,” “the temptation of readily available alcohol, drugs and unhealthy food,” “the challenge of getting enough sleep” and “stress from trying to balance classes, friends, homework, jobs, athletics and leadership positions.”
These challenges undoubtedly make it difficult for any young scholar to prioritize their physical well-being. Imagine the difficulty of attempting to make healthy life choices when facing the allure of enticing temptations around every corner.
During the holiday season, choosing to make healthy decisions can prove even more difficult—students may be pressured to succumb to binge drinking, overindulgences and lack of physical activity.
However, students must become cognizant of their behaviors—filling the winter break (or each weekend of college) with exorbitant amounts of alcohol and countless extra calories is not the path to optimum health. We must acknowledge the correlation between our choices and the actuality of our health.
The CDC reports everyone should aim for at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week. Students may feel they do not have time to incorporate structured exercise routines into their busy schedules, and many people may be unmotivated to exercise during the holiday break.
Luckily, there are many quick and fun ways to stay active. Students can opt to spend time at home trying new outdoor activities with family or old friends.
Doing a yoga class with mom or taking dad up on that offer to go play some golf can help incorporate physical activity. Getting the family together for a quick walk around the neighborhood or throwing the ball with a younger sibling may be a way to kill two birds with one stone—getting exercise and some familial brownie points.
If students have a bit more time on their hands upon arriving back to campus after the break, they can achieve their recommended exercise quota by joining an intramural sports team. Most spring intramural entries are due around February at Texas State, so everyone has plenty of time to get a team together before the new year begins.
The CDC also recommends college students “eat regular healthy meals to help keep up (their) energy.”
While paying attention to nutrition can sound like a daunting task, it is not as difficult as it may seem. Simply reading nutrition labels and selecting foods low in saturated fat and sugar can help students achieve healthier lifestyles. Sites such as SuperTracker are awesome tools to help students remain aware of the nutritional information of the foods they choose to consume.
During the holidays, students must simply watch the amount of delicious foods they pile on their plates at holiday buffets. Portion control can be the determining factor between enormous holiday weight gain or maintaining a healthy weight during the festive season.
While it can be initially difficult to incorporate healthy choices into a college lifestyle, the long-term payoff is ultimately worth it. Choosing overall health over immediate gratification allows for students to have more self-respect for their bodies and their experience at school. Remember, we are at college to gain a higher education, and this can be best achieved when our physical bodies are functioning optimally.
Although the holidays may mean healthy decisions are a bit more difficult to make, people who stay on track during the season will find it easier to continually integrate wise choices during the spring semester. These decisions will ultimately benefit student success in every aspect.
– Bridgett Reneau is a psychology junior