Maintaining Good Physical Health As A College Student

Photo courtesy of Mason Recreation


Staying physically fit in college can be a challenge, and for good reason. After all, one of the major things that sets college apart from high school is the workload students receive. According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities, students are expected to spend two hours of work/study time for every one hour spent in class. Combine this with working a job or internship, participating in clubs, seeing friends, and the many other activities college students can partake in, and you don’t find yourself with much time to devote to staying fit. 

Furthermore, whilst doing the research for this article, I came across the term “Freshman 15” for the first time. This refers to when college freshmen gain 15 pounds as a result of the significant change in lifestyle that they experience when starting college.

However, rest assured that there are simple changes you can implement to your college life to help you stay fit all while not being time consuming.

The first and maybe most surprising thing you can do to help fight weight gain is to eat snacks! Although one may think that eating more than three meals a day would lead to weight gain, the opposite is actually true to an extent. 

Eating snacks when you begin to feel hungry can help you avoid bingeing later in the day. Eating snacks has also been shown to raise ones basal metabolic rate, a measure of how many calories you are burning while at rest. However, “snacks” does not mean junk food. Try eating fruit, nuts, berries, guacamole or Greek yogurt, among other healthy things. 

Secondly, make sure to stay hydrated. This is something I learned while wrestling in high school, as I had to lose weight to wrestle at a certain weight class. In sports that require cutting weight, many athletes make the mistake of barely eating or drinking before weighing in for an event. They think that eating and drinking will add weight, and therefore abstain from both. This is not only a big mistake for athletes, but also a big mistake for your regular everyday person. 

Eating and especially drinking water, helps your body continue operating smoothly. Not drinking enough water will slow down your body’s metabolism, leading to weight gain. Other side effects of dehydration include, but are not limited to: fatigue, dizziness, and headaches —all symptoms you don’t want to experience when trying to focus in class, or while studying for a big exam!

The third tip for fighting weight gain is to eat something healthy before you eat something less healthy. You shouldn’t feel pressured into never enjoying pizza again. 

That being said, if you want to avoid eating too much pizza in one sitting, try eating one of the aforementioned healthy snacks, or a salad, before starting on that pizza. Filling up your stomach with something healthy first will help you to avoid overeating less healthy foods. 

Lastly, try not to drink too much alcohol. One beer contains about 150 calories and 4–6 of those, combined with the hunger that people experience during intoxication or during a hangover can lead to rapid weight gain.

Luckily, Mason provides students with resources they can use to help them stay in shape. Between the numerous athletic clubs, exercise facilities and dining options available on campus, Mason has everything you need to help you combat an unhealthy lifestyle, and live your best life as a student!