Jain: A quick guide to maintaining physical health in college

Nikhita Jain, Staff Writer

We are often so absorbed with the burdensome schedules and heavy workloads of college life that the first thing we forfeit tends to be our physical well-being. We lose sight of what’s actually important. Maintaining our physical well-being is not only vital for our general health, as it helps to protect against illnesses and ailments, but staying healthy also positively impacts our academic performance. Being physically fit and well-nourished improves cognitive skills including concentration and attention. It also affects one’s learning ability by enhancing memory and speeding up information processing. 

Additionally, preserving proper physical health results in less fatigue and greater energy, helping us to keep up with the tiresome demands of our daily lives. As college students, we already have so many responsibilities to bear, so you are probably wondering, “how can I possibly shoulder another one?” However, it is important to realize that this is all a part of the process of becoming an adult. And as adults, no matter how many tasks one has to fulfill, physical health should never be sacrificed. To this end, I have listed some simple practices for maintaining proper physical health that you can easily weave into your busy student life.


Completing a quick workout 

Exercise. It is one of the most obvious yet neglected practices for maintaining good physical health. Many people do not exercise because they find it boring and monotonous or are unable to find time in their busy schedules for it. However, there are many forms of exercise. Exercising isn’t just jumping jacks, pushups or squats; it can involve more enjoyable activities, such as playing sports with friends, riding a bike or walking to class. Furthermore, a workout does not need to be an hour long. It can be as short as 15 to 30 minutes a couple of times a week, which is far easier to fit into your daily schedule. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to wake up a little earlier in the day or to stay up a little later in the night in order to squeeze in a quick workout. Personally, I enjoy doing some stretches or a yoga workout to wind down after a taxing day.


Adopting healthy eating habits

Maintaining good eating habits and consuming nutritious food is another widely known way to maintain proper physical health, yet most of us do it incorrectly or not at all. Due to our packed schedules, we tend to skip meals or develop intermittent and disordered eating habits. These practices can hurt our body and brain function without realizing it, making it beneficial to instead adopt healthy eating practices. Such practices include eating breakfast daily, trying to eat at regular time intervals, keeping healthy snacks on hand, staying hydrated and avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol. Also, whenever possible, try to swap junk food for wholesome foods like vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (i.e., avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, fish, olives, olive oil) and lean proteins (i.e., chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, cottage cheese, lean cuts of pork and beef).


Getting a good amount of sleep

While it is recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep, most of us fail to meet this requirement due to our college lives, with many students likely getting between five and seven hours—or sometimes even less—of sleep instead. However, sleep is fundamental to our wellbeing and the functioning of our body and mind; it rejuvenates us, allowing us to be more alert and focused when we are awake—this can only strengthen our academic performance.


Practicing self-care

As some may already know, physical and mental health are interrelated. And so, having poor mental health can pose negative consequences on our physical health. In order to maintain good physical health, it is key to maintain good mental health. You can do this by taking some time to relax and destress at the end of the day. For instance, engage in something you enjoy, like reading a book, watching Netflix, drawing, journaling or some other activity. You can also practice activities such as meditating, taking a warm shower or practicing yoga—this can help to calm down both your body and mind.

The key to managing multiple obligations is being sensible with your time. As such, all the techniques I’ve mentioned should take little time, and you can easily incorporate them into your daily schedules. While there are many more techniques for fostering good physical health, I hope these basic strategies motivate you to take more care of yourself and your wellbeing.