The Great British Mag content team published the article 10 tips to staying fit and healthy as a student on 5 March, 2020.
Juggling your studies, social life and staying fit and healthy can be a huge challenge, but remembering to look after yourself mentally and physically will help you be a better student.
Money is also a consideration so here are our top 10 tips to staying fit and healthy.
1. Join your university gym
Most universities have a gym on campus that offer competitive discounts for students. For example, the University of Oxford’s Iffley Road Sports Centre offers a one-year membership for just £69, compared to £273 for general members of the community. Most gyms offer weights and cardio sections, as well as swimming pools and group fitness classes. Check your university website to see what’s on offer. If your university doesn’t have a gym, local gyms usually offer competitive membership prices for students and concessions.
Exercising regularly will help you keep up with your hectic life as a student and is a great way to manage stress and anxiety.
2. Stay hydrated and healthy
Health experts recommend drinking around two litres of water everyday. The best way to do this is to carry around a water bottle with you to class, the gym or while you’re studying at your desk. The best way to know if you’re drinking too much or too little water is to look at the colour of your urine – it should be a really light pale yellow colour. If it’s completely clear then you’re drinking too much, but if it’s too yellow you’re not drinking enough.
It’s important for international students to remember that drinking tap water is perfectly safe. In fact, a lot of universities offer free drinking water in the form of water fountains around campus. For example, UCL have a map of water fountains across UCL buildings.
3. Practice mindfulness
Before you reach for your phone to scroll through social media after your alarm clock goes off every morning, the best way to start your day is to meditate for 10 minutes. There are some great apps like Headspace or Calm that can help guide you through what to do if you’re unsure. Studies show meditating to start your day enhances your awareness, prevents stress and anxiety and boosts your overall well-being.
4. Stay connected
While studying and focusing on your education is important, it’s also great for your mental health to regularly check in with friends and family. Being away from your home country can be hard and often cause homesickness. So drop a text or call a friend or family member from home to see how they are. It could be the refresh you need to give you that motivation to keep going on.
5. Join a sports team
One of the best ways to get fit and to meet new people is to join a sports team. According to the governing body of university sports, British Universities and College Sports, there are a total of 48 sports on offer on campuses across the UK. They include sports like: basketball, boxing, fencing, football, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, rowing, sailing, swimming, tennis, volleyball and windsurfing.
You can also join local sports teams via apps like Meetup, which can offer some deals for free trial sessions before committing to more.
6. Eat a balanced and healthy diet
One of the best ways to keep your body and mind healthy is to have a well-balanced diet. The National Health Service (NHS) has a great guide on how to eat a healthy diet, including tips like:
- One third of your diet should be starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals. Make sure to choose the higher fibre options.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables every day.
- Everything in moderation: Don’t eat foods with too much saturated fat, salt or sugar.
If you’re studying and constantly snacking, it may also help to stock up on foods like mixed nuts, hard-boiled eggs, protein shakes, yogurt, granola and fresh fruit smoothies.
7. Get enough sleep
When you’re in the midst of exams, sometimes sleep can be the first thing you might compromise to get everything done. The Sleep Foundation recommends eight to 10 hours of sleep for late teens (14-17 years old) and seven to nine for 18-64 year olds. The health benefits of getting enough sleep include getting sick less often, managing weight, reducing stress and improving mental health.
If you can, walk everywhere. If you live in student accommodation on campus, walking to class will be essential but if there are other destinations where you’re questioning whether to walk or get public transport, why not just leave a little bit earlier and try to walk? There’s nothing better than getting fresh air, familiarising yourself with the local area and getting some exercise in the process.
9. Use food waste apps
Food waste apps like Karma and Too Good To Go offer discounts on food that shops and restaurants might otherwise throw away at the end of the day. It’s perfect for helping students living on a budget to eat a healthy, balanced diet. It can also cut down on your cooking time so you can prioritise other things, like exercise!. Download the app and then check what restaurants nearby are offering. It shows you the original price, as well as the discounted price, as well as when to pick it up and how far away it is.
10. Have fun
It’s important to focus on your studies but it’s also important to take strategic breaks and have fun. Chiropractors recommend not sitting at a desk for more than four hours at a time, so why don’t you try having a study block in the morning, going to the gym just before lunch and then continuing studying after? Not overworking yourself and making sure to have some downtime can help you manage stress and keep your mental health in check. Give it a go!