Fitness, healthy eating still possible in college, experts say

Nov 15th, 2012

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Fitness, healthy eating still possible in college, experts say

If you woke up this morning with your clothes feeling a little tighter than usual, then it might be the 15-pound nightmare we’ve all been warned about since the first year of college.

The “freshman 15” remains a perennial fear among college students, but there are ways to fit healthy eating and exercise in a busy college agenda.

According to a reporting in the Journal of American College Health, the research team found that about 70 percent of students gained an average of 9 pounds between the start of college and the end of sophomore year.

Explanations for the weight gain include lack of exercise, social eating, buying cheap food options, high calorie cafeteria food, higher alcohol consumption, and easier access to fast food joints.

“Before coming to college, I ate mostly vegetables, beans, soups, and rice. My family doe not eat red meat, and we never kept a lot of junk food around the house,” says Buffy Johnson, a senior at the College of Charleston. “Now I eat whatever I can afford even if it’s not the best thing for me. It is much harder to eat healthier since I have less time to cook a full meal.”

College students often turn to whatever they can afford, and there are always a lot of unhealthy choices awaiting students on and off campus. So what can you do to keep off the pounds? Sophomore De’asia McNeill tries to make a point of hitting the gym as often as possible. “I eat salads and try to go workout at least one to two times a week,”McNeill says.

Personal Trainer Angelo Frasier advises students to do some sort of exercise at least three times a week at an hour per session.

If students have time to party and socialize, then they have time to take care of their health. “The main mistakes students make are infrequent eating, overeating, eating junk food, and not giving time to exercise,” Frasier says.

What should you eat?

“Stick to steamed vegetables, fruits, and anything that gives a good source of protein such as chicken and fish,” he says. “These are less expensive than the fast food students often turn to.”

Frasier advocates a 30-minute jog for students who have absolutely no time. “Don’t get too concerned with weight training because that doesn’t keep the weight off like intense cardio will,” he says.

Students often blame busy schedules and social lives for lack of exercise, but most colleges have some sort of workout facility easily accessible to students at little or no cost, so there is no excuse for fitting in some exercise.

Being healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. “I get friends to work out or play basketball with me at the gym so it becomes a group effort,” McNeill says. “When you do it as a group, it makes it seem less like a chore, and more like just hanging out with friends.”

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