Healthy by Accident: Low-Effort Tips for Staying Fit in College

Between late night carbo-loading, sugary caffeine pick-me-ups, and vending machines at every turn, campus life is riddled with unhealthy temptations, but you can beat the bulge with these no-brainer eating and exercise tips.

Grub Without Guilt

Eating on the go is as much a reality of campus living as it is a downfall. The solution? Before leaving home or your dorm, grab a healthy snack—such as a piece of fruit, rice cakes with peanut butter, or yogurt—to stave off midday hunger.

You’ll also want to start making healthy adjustments to your diet now that you’re living on your own. After all, college-age metabolism is generally not as forgiving as it was in high school.

Eat this > Not that

o Reduced fat or non-dairy milk > Whole or 2% milk
o Frozen yogurt > Ice cream
o Diet soda > Regular soda
o Egg whites > Egg yolks
o White or light meat > Red meat
o Baked whole-grain crackers > Fried, oily chips
o Brown rice > White rice
o Whole wheat pasta > White flour pasta
o Thin-crust veggie pizza > Thick-crust pepperoni pizza
o Stevia, agave, or other natural sweetener > Processed sugar or aspartame-based sweeteners

Everyday Exercise

You don’t have to wear yourself out on a treadmill to get exercise—although if you are into gym fitness, be sure to take advantage of the health and recreation centers that most campuses offer. Elsewhere, there are hundreds of ways to incorporate movement without shaking up your routine. Here are a few:

- Get to steppin’.
o Take the stairs between classes instead of waiting for crowded elevators.
o If you’re a commuter, park farther away than normal.
o Visit friends and professors in person instead of calling or e-mailing.
o Walk to stores, libraries, and restaurants whenever possible.
o Synchronize your routes to and from class (or the library, or weekend entertainment spots) with those of friends so it feels more like fun than fitness.

- Pull your weight.
o Challenge yourself—slowly!—to carry loads of groceries and laundry up and down stairs instead of using the elevator.
o Put small hand weights in your backpacks and handbags for added resistance.

- Clean house.
Did you know that dusting can burn 173 calories? And vacuuming, a whopping 200? Haul out the cleaning supplies and get your place spic-and-span while working on your waistline.

- Get in the game.
Join an intramural basketball team, or meet up with friends for outdoor activities in your area such as canoeing, skiing, and sand volleyball. If organized sports aren’t your thing, you’d be surprised how quickly a casual game of “Keep the Balloon from Touching the Floor” among roommates can get competitive—and sweaty! Look for ways to turn everyday activities—from Wastebasketball to organized campus clean-up projects—into a fun and physical challenge.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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