Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Gaining the dreaded Freshman 15 is the cliched fear of most first-year college students. In fact, there is a chance that college students may gain weight (whether a small or large amount) during every year of their undergraduate career. This is frightening to most, but can be easily avoided and controlled. Treating the body in a healthy manner makes for an even healthier, quicker, and stronger mind, after all!

One of the best ways to lose weight or control one’s weight is, of course, exercise. Some students may be used to working out regularly from playing a high school sport, and may even play one in college that forces them to hit the gym every so often. If this is not the case for you (or if you’re looking to brush up on your fitness regimen), here are some tips and tricks that can make what is, for some, the dreaded trip to the gym a whole lot easier.

Use the university resources available to you.

Universities across America see the importance of a healthy and active student body, and have gyms on campus to fulfill this need. Most gyms, whether small or large in size, contain a substantial amount of equipment from cardio machines to dumbbells and everything in between. If you’re a planner like me, pencil in gym time for each day of the week that you’d like to work out. This is the perfect reminder–when you’re thumbing through your planner (one of which you should really have, by the way) and see that you’ve committed to working out, grab a friend and hit the gym for an hour. There’s another excellent resource: bring friends. Even if you’re just going to walk on the treadmill or pump out an hour on the elliptical, everything is better when you’ve got a buddy. If you’re intimidated by the gym, this one’s for you.

Look nearby, and you may be surprised. 

Regardless of whether or not your campus is in the middle of a city or in small-town suburbia, there should be resources available to you in the surrounding area. Students attending schools in cities like New York and Boston have the option of going to fun fitness classes at spinning studios like SoulCycle, and this is an excellent way to keep up with a regular routine. Scour out the class schedule online at a fitness studio (Barre3 is also a cool option!) nearby and pencil them into your planner for a weekly, no-brainer commitment to exercise. Bringing friends with you will make the class more fun, and can make for a nice trip off-campus during the week. Fear not–if you attend school in a smaller area, locally-owned studios are often sprinkled throughout the suburbs offering everything from yoga to pilates to Zumba. And, if that’s not enough, try out a local fully-equipped gym if there’s one nearby and your university’s fitness center isn’t the best.

Get some air. 

Using an app for the iPhone/Android like MapMyRun, you can easily scour out trails for running, biking, and walking near your college campus. On those days where people are flocking to the grassy areas of campus and hanging out outside all afternoon, go for a run instead of sipping that extra iced tea and lounging around. There’s nothing wrong with some R&R on a beautiful day, but grabbing some friends to take a walk under the shady trees of a nearby trail can be equally as effective. Mentally, walking or running even for just 30 minutes per day can improve mood and behavior. Why not take the opportunity on a sunny day and be active?

Join a club or intramural sport

You don’t have to have Division I, varsity athletic abilities to play a sport for leisure while in college–and the health benefits of doing so may be worth your while. If you’re in an on-campus organization or, for example, have gone on a study abroad or service trip with a small group, consider forming an intramural team. Whether it’s badminton, volleyball, or soccer, most universities offer a wide array of intramural teams. If you’re not a competitive person, don’t worry, as intramurals are meant to be fun and easygoing; however, you may come to notice that your competitive side can be unleashed when your intramural kickball team makes it to the annual playoffs. With what are normally weekly practices and games, playing an intramural sport not only keeps students moving and active, but presents bonding opportunities and a fun way to spend free time.

Take an elective course. 

If you’re looking for ways to earn more academic credits and can afford to tack on an extra course, see if your university offers active classes like bi-weekly yoga or meditation. More so, if your university offers majors like public health or exercise science, you may be able to take a nutrition class. Both options are valuable–whether you’re toning your mind and body, or learning about healthy lifestyle options, benefits will arise. Courses that are physically active will require you to commit to exercise at least a few times per week, ensuring that you’re staying active and giving you college credit for doing so. If that’s not a good deal, I don’t know what is.

*Another crucial tip, though not involving staying active physically, for maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the proper consumption of water throughout the day. Buying a reusable water bottle is eco-friendly, of course, but also allows for multiple refills of water throughout the day. Drinking water keeps you full and focused, and can allow for less mindless snacking due to boredom. You’d be surprised at how much drinking a few bottles of water per day affects focus and mental sharpness–plus, it’ll keep your mind off of sugary sodas and other unnecessary foods that can contribute to gradual weight gain. Say goodbye to that Freshman 15!

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