Guest written by Ben Vzyourek
Any college student or young adult can attest to the fact that our lives are hectic, and we’re usually on a tight budget. Unfortunately, the phrase, “broke college student” is a very real thing. The time and money constraints many young adults experience often make it difficult to be consistent with healthy lifestyle choices. But whether it be nutrition or physical activity, it is possible to make both a priority without sacrificing a lot of time and money.
I can personally say that finding the time to workout in a day full of classes and work can be challenging. Something that I find to be helpful is developing a routine and sticking to it. My class schedule leaves most of my afternoon open, so I find time to workout around 4:30 every day. For some people, early mornings or late evenings might be more realistic. For others, the time might vary each day. But picking a time that is open consistently throughout the week and scheduling it can help keep exercise a regular part of your routine.
Sometimes the words “workout” or “exercise” can be daunting and give the illusion that you have to give up half of your day or purchase an expensive gym membership just to get a sweat in. While long, hard workouts may seem effective, it is unlikely they will remain consistent throughout the week. Not only that, but contrary to popular belief, your body does not thrive off of super strenuous exercise every single day. It’s important to listen to your body. Try switching up the intensity and type of exercise you do throughout the week to help you recover more effectively and keep you from getting injured or burnt out. Even if it’s just a 20 minute walk around campus or stretching in your dorm room, your body and brain will thank you for the movement and blood flow. Staying consistent with a variety of activity throughout the week will be incredibly beneficial to your health and long-term goals.
And then there’s nutrition. It’s no secret that “healthy eating” in college is a challenge. I can attest that college dining halls do not offer the most nutritionally dense food choices, and while these factors may seem somewhat out of your control, there are a few key things to remember. First, always remember the basics. Adding fruits, vegetables, and some sort of protein or other whole foods to any meal is a great way to add nutritional value to your plate. Second, it is not bad or wrong to enjoy unhealthy food. What college kid doesn’t love late-night pizza or the dining hall ice cream machine? Not to sound cliche, but the key is balance. Food is meant to fuel your body and to be enjoyed, not to deprive yourself of.
Outside of dining halls, it can be challenging to consistently cook nutritional meals while sticking to a tight budget. I personally find it helpful to meal-prep for the week in advance, which saves me time and money in the long run. I also love my Air Fryer for cooking things in a pinch—anything from vegetables to chicken to PB&Js. For college students, making healthy decisions can seem to be an up-hill battle, but being consistent in the little things can set you up for success with your health and long-term goals.
Being intentional with movement and food choices proves to be beneficial in all aspects of life. Exercising has shown to improve cognitive abilities and alertness, which are especially useful in an academic setting. Eating whole, tasty foods and properly fueling your body boosts mood, memory, and energy. Making mindful decisions around your health in college can be difficult, but with the goal of consistency and balance rather than perfection, it is largely attainable.