Staying fit in college can be challenging for a number of reasons.
From former high school athletes searching for a new routine as college freshmen to graduate students struggling to find time in their busy schedules, several factors can affect different students’ fitness.
Many incoming freshmen are conscious of the “freshman 15,” a term for the weight students supposedly gain in their first year of college. Research shows this specific amount of weight gain for this particular age group is more a myth than anything.
A 2012 study on the trends of weight in college students showed only 12% of students gained 15 pounds or more during their first three semesters. The average weight gain was closer to three pounds.
Students don’t just gain weight because they’re in college.
“College freshmen are only gaining about a 1/2 pound more than similar people who did not go to school,” Reuters reporter Kim Palmer wrote.
Regardless of the freshman 15’s validity, new college students do face factors that can lead to weight gain such as stress and different routines than they might be used to.
“According to Penn State nutrition instructor, Dr. Alison Borkowska, overwhelming schedules can be a major reason for students’ bad eating habits. ‘They’re encountering levels of stress and scheduling that they’ve never experienced before,’ she said. ‘They’ve never had this many things to be responsible for, including putting food in their mouths,’” a 2014 Huffpost article reported.
With obstacles in the way of first-year students’ fitness, finding a fun way to work out is key, Student Recreation Center fitness instructor Joe Black said.
“The best tip I have are for students is to find something they really enjoy. That’s the easiest way to stay fit at school.”
Black recommended using resources at BGSU such as intramural or club sports teams or Group X classes at the SRC. Students can also incorporate new friends into their fitness routine.
“It also helps to exercise with a friend, so you can keep each other accountable and stay consistent,” he said.
Amanda Bireline, a writer for the National Institute of Fitness and Sports blog, also recommends working out with a friend. Other tips Bireline has for staying fit in college is to schedule a workout, even if it’s just for 30 minutes, or use exercise as a study break between subjects.
Another aspect of fitness besides physical activity is food.
Bireline recommends avoiding the typical busy college student “grab and go.” If students must make quick decisions about food between classes, they should try to go for healthy snacks, she said. Examples are apples, celery sticks with peanut butter, bananas and baby carrots.