Heading off to college is a big adventure and can cause excitement and stress—along with a host of other emotions—for parents and students alike. You can help your college freshmen be successful in class and in life by talking to them about how important their choices will be. Building healthy habits now can last a lifetime.
Get Enough Sleep
The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep have been well documented. From balancing hormones and regulating blood sugar to helping reduce stress and inflammation, sleep is a vital requirement for a healthy lifestyle. College freshmen should aim for 7–9 hours of sleep each night.
To ensure your students get enough sleep, they should strive for a consistent sleep schedule. That means going to bed and waking daily at similar times. Those late nights—whether for studying or partying—will catch up with college freshmen sooner rather than later.
Exercise and Stay Active
At most colleges and universities, students have access to an on-campus gym. Sometimes, the cost is rolled in with tuition, and if it’s not, they’ll pay a nominal fee to use the facilities. This is a great investment in health and wellness—not only while in school but for long after. If your student wasn’t already exercising regularly before heading off to college, this could be a good time to start a routine. They’ll also find physical education classes on the schedule, and even if they’re not looking for credit, the courses can be audited. Curious about how to lift weights without getting hurt? How about enrolling in a weight-lifting course?
Student athletes will find staying active at college easier since it’s regulated for them. But all college freshmen can enjoy the many benefits of regular exercise. Encourage your students to walk or bike between classes, even on a large campus. Additionally, most students can enjoy on-campus gym facilities, plenty of outdoor lawns for impromptu yoga, and a visit to the swimming pool for a few laps.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
The “freshman 15” is a still a real issue among kids who go off to college. That’s because, perhaps for the first time, 18-year-olds’ diets are unregulated. Most college freshmen are on the campus meal plan, which affords them access to an unlimited buffet of goodies. Without Mom and Dad there to control portion sizes or avoid keeping certain not-so-good-for-you foods in the house, students often don’t pay attention to how much they’re eating.
Heading off to college means choices abound. This is a great time for college freshmen to learn to pay more attention to their bodies. Eat when you’re hungry. Sleep when you’re tired. Just because food is there doesn’t mean it needs to be eaten—even if it is a delicious piece of chocolate cake.
Drink Plenty of Water
Students should get into the habit of always having a water bottle with them. Rushing in between classes often leaves little time for hydration, and without enough water, they can become lightheaded, fatigued, and even have muscle cramps. Just as sleep has numerous benefits, so does drinking adequate water. And for active college freshmen, electrolytes are an added benefit. Students should avoid sugar-laden energy drinks and sports drinks and opt, instead, for sugar-free options. Individual packets of electrolyte can be added to water on the go, making the entire process of staying hydrated much easier.
Have a Party Plan
College freshmen want to hop into the college scene with both feet, and that means partying. While it’s fine to go to parties, students need to have a plan. Underage drinking aside, kids will be kids. Start conversations now about making smart choices, whether they plan to drink or not. It’s that next choice that makes all the difference. Talk to them about being responsible, because the decisions they make in college—about partying, sleeping, being active, and staying healthy—can last a lifetime.
Get Your College Freshmen Ready for College
Community Choice Pediatrics can ensure your students have a clean bill of health before heading off to college or university. Schedule your appointment for a physical today.