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Living on a student budget is no reason to forego your health and fitness level. Finding free fitness options can actually be a great way to create lifelong healthy habits, make new friends and relieve the regular stress associated with college life.
When beginning a new fitness routine, remember that you want something convenient and fun. If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to move on to the next option.
Hit the local library
Check your college library for books and DVDs with fitness routines; and if you can’t find any you like, head to a nearby community library where they’re likely to have a good selection. The best part about using the library is that you can regularly change up your routine. You can make copies of routines you find in books and create a binder, alternating routines every few weeks. With DVDs, you can select a new one every week.
Head for the pavement
Running outside will always be free. Get a group of friends together and consider starting a running group so everyone stays motivated. You can run through your campus or find a local trail. Keep things interesting by selecting a new path or location each week. If you live by hills or mountains, try challenging yourself with uphill runs to mix things up.
Find your faves on YouTube
100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute! Using search terms like “dorm room workout” or “body weight exercises,” you’ll find some great routines that can be done in the comfort of your dorm room or outside. Subscribe to your favorite channels and keep your eyes peeled for fresh content. You could even consider making your own, which may increase your motivation and keep you excited about working out.
Find free workout websites
Similar to YouTube, there are now several fitness sites with videos that are completely free. The great thing about these is that you don’t have to sift through unrelated videos to get to what you want. If you enjoy yoga, try DoYogaWithMe.com. If you want to try out some new body weight exercise routines or interval training, try FitnessBlender.com. ToneItUp.com is geared towards women and provides new videos regularly as well.
There’s an app for that
The number of fitness apps grows every single day. If you have a smart phone, you can take advantage of free apps that provide interval timers, workouts, workout tracking and more. Checkout Workout Trainer, Nike Training Club and Daily Workouts Free to start. Or, just search keywords like “fitness,” “workout” and “exercise” to get started finding your own. Create a section on your phone just for these apps and try to rotate between them each time you exercise.
Start your own team or league
Many colleges have intramural sports teams but sometimes it costs to play. Start your own league or team with a group of friends. If you all work together, you can create flyers to hang on boards around campus, create a Facebook group, or even a free WordPress site to spread the word and keep track of interest.
Try it out
Many gyms and studios with fitness classes will let you come for one week free, or let you try one class for free. You may only get one week or one day, but depending on how many gyms and studios there are around you, it could take a while to use up all your freebies. This is also a great opportunity to figure out what you really like. Maybe a yoga class really appeals to you, or maybe you enjoy more dance or weight training. Once you figure out what kind of classes you like use that knowledge to find other free resources online or at the library as mentioned earlier.
If you have a little extra to spend
If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money, sign up with sites like GroupOn and Living Social which offer discounted passes to local studios. You can also purchase used fitness DVD’s online at Amazon and sell them back when you’re ready to try something new. Last but not least, ask if your local rock climbing gym, yoga studio or golfing green offers student discounts.
There are plenty of opportunities for you to stay fit and have fun on a student budget. The most important thing is to do things you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find your niche.
Eating Healthy on a College Budget
Between your studies, work and social life, you have little time for illness as a college student. But, you also have a limited budget to work with. Below you’ll find tips to keep you full and fueled without breaking the bank.
Buy in bulk
You can often find dried fruits, nuts and grains in bulk at the grocery store. Stock up on nuts and dried fruit to have for snacks between classes and use grains such as oats, rice and buckwheat for breakfast or as sides to lunch and dinner meals. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are regularly sold in one pound bags. Apples, onions, carrots and potatoes add more flavor for less calories and less money.
Buy in season
When you’re purchasing produce, use an online resource such as eattheseasons.com to find out what’s in season near you. When items are in season, they are abundant, and this drives the price down. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on some of your favorite foods.
Use the freezer
You can store more than produce in the freezer. When you find meals you like, make more servings at once and freeze the extras. You can let them thaw out during the day and heat them up when you get home in the evening.
Drink more water
Juices and sodas are expensive and many of them are just sugar bombs. Drink more water and try flavoring it with fresh fruit like lemons and berries.
Pack in the protein
Protein can be more expensive than other items but it will often keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are more affordable than meat. Beans and dairy products like cheese and yogurt also provide protein at a lower cost.
Fill up on healthy fats
Did you know that healthy saturated fats actually benefit your brain? Foods like raw nuts, avocados, and coconut benefit your body by helping you absorb more nutrients and fueling your brain. They also help keep you full. Add them to meals or pack them as snacks.
Save with soup and stir fry
You can make a wide variety of soups and stir-frys without even following a recipe. All you need is broth, your favorite vegetables and some spices. Add beans, meats or quinoa to make it more filling and you have a simple and affordable meal. You can easily make several batches at once.
Make friends with grocery store employees
Speak with employees to learn when new shipments come in, when sales start and when items go on clearance. This is a great way to get meat for up to 50% off the original price. Many times, grocers will mark down meat on its freeze by date. You can go back to scoop it up that day and cook it that night or freeze for later.
Snacking between classes
If you are out on campus and only have vending machine options, look for roasted nuts, baked chips or crackers, instead of cookies and candy. A better option, however, is to plan ahead. If you have a meal plan, take an extra yogurt, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit before you leave for your first class. If you live off campus, pack snacks ahead of time. Trail mix, nuts, avocados, chopped veggies and fruits can all be eaten on the go.
Make it fun
Invite your friends over for a potluck rather than going out for dinner. Encourage each person to bring a homemade dish for everyone to share. Homemade doesn’t always mean healthy, but you’ll often find this to be a better and more affordable option than a big night out.
It’s easy to be tempted by late night cafes and cheap junk food, but a little extra work will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Be creative with your budget. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find the balance that works best for you.
Boost Academic Performance by Eating Healthy
Numerous studies have validated the claim that healthy eating boosts academic performance. Students who do not eat breakfast tend to have difficulty in memorizing and paying attention in class. A recent study in Canada followed 6000 students in Toronto schools and showed positive results. 70% said having breakfast boosted their energy levels while 61% exceeded provincial reading standards. Countless studies have also been conducted in the US which also further help in pointing that a well-balanced nutritional diet boosts academic performance and overall health of students in high school.
Mixed-Grain Diet and Cognitive Functioning
Mixed-grain diet has found out to improve cognitive performance in students. A study conducted in 2012 revealed less mental fatigue and higher level of protein in the brain, by eating mixed grains, indicating a healthy brain. Sugary sodas and a junky diet cause childhood obesity which decreases cognitive functioning.
Poor Nutrition and Lower Test Performance
Poor nutrition produces a stress hormone cortisol in excess. This hormone affects the brain and impairs learning, memorizing, paying attention and controlling impulse. Students who eat unhygienic, highly processed poor food have been found to score less on tests and exhibit behavior problems compared to well-nourished students.
A study conducted in 2011 found that drinking milk is associated with better performance. Sweetened beverages tend to impair alertness and understanding. In the study, students who ate regular breakfast scored higher on math tests compared to those who skip on their breakfasts. Other factors which help boost performance on tests include physical activity and eating healthy food.
Regular Breakfast Improves Memory
Regular breakfast no wonder provides with the required nutrition to function properly through the day. One study conducted by Gregory Phillips of college students showed that those who ate breakfast regularly passed their biology exam. It is also recommended to have a snack in between breakfast and lunch. Having a mid morning snack actually improves memory. Blueberries and yoghurt have been linked to improve memory in some studies. A hardboiled egg is also good to have in breakfast as it contains choline, a nutrient which has been found to improve memory in animal studies.
Proper Nutrition Helps Stay Alert
Inadequate nutrition, calories and junk food makes students feel lethargic and participate less in school activities. Eating proper, healthy and hygienic food prevents them from falling ill and helps them stay alert in school and focus on lectures and understand better. It helps the student to be more positive and show enthusiasm for a better learning.
Food Quality and Academic Performance
Spanish studies have found out that the quality of food students has also affected their performance academically. The study showed a direct relationship between food quality and academic performance. As food quality increased, students academic performance also increased. Certain mental processes such as comprehension, memory and concentrationwere affected more than others when food quality differed.
Physical Activity is also Important
Countless studies validate that eating healthy improves functioning of the brain. It helps the mental processes in understanding, interpreting, focusing and keeping alert in school thus, improving academic performance. Proper nutrition is like food to the brain and a balanced diet keeps students both active and prevents them from feeling tired.
Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, daily physical activities are necessary. Eating right is one part of the game, but if students take part in extracurricular activities and stay physically active and fit, studies have found them to perform better in classes. It improves attention and concentration in class. The oxygen which reaches the brain helps with better functioning and also prevents obesity in students.
Get your best rest by establishing a routine
Although it may not seem like it, you are still growing in college. Your body is changing while you’re undergoing new stressors like being away from home, studying more and participating in campus activities. For both your health and your grades, it’s important to create an evening routine and a regular sleep schedule.
Follow a schedule
One of the best ways to insure you get enough quality sleep is to try and maintain the same sleep schedule. If you regularly wake at 8 am for classes on Monday, try to maintain that same waking time throughout the school week. On the weekends, do your best to stick to a similar schedule. If you spend a late night out with friends, do your best to get back on schedule the following day.
Work it out
Establishing an exercise schedule has also been shown to improve sleep. You don’t need to be a die-hard athlete to reap the benefits either. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. You can walk, dance, do yoga or perform a mix of cardio and strength training. It is best to fit in exercise in the morning or afternoon, as evening workouts can actually disrupt sleep.
Make good choices at the table
Deep fried and heavy foods can be more difficult for some people to digest. Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and avoid having a heavy dinner, as intense digestion can impair your ability to fall asleep. Sip on water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
Don’t be tempted to skip meals. When your schedule fills up, make sure you are still eating balanced meals consistently. Both overeating and undereating can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Let go of the electronics
Some studies indicate that the use of electronics before bed can cause sleep disorders. For this reason, it’s best to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed. Replace this time with light reading, listening to calming music, enjoying a warm bath or meditating. Avoid loud noise and emotionally stimulating books or music. The idea is to begin to turn your brain off for the evening so it can prepare for sleep.
Create a sleep zone
It’s easy to eat, watch movies and surf the web in bed; but none of these habits will do anything to improve your sleep. Save your favorite activities for other areas of your living space and maintain that your bed is used only for sleep. This is a way of training your brain and body to associate your bed only with sleep.
While it may be tempting to fill up on coffee and other caffeinated beverages to make it through a long day of classes, those same habits are likely creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep followed by tiring days. If you choose to include caffeine in your day, make it first thing in the morning so you’re more alert for classes. You’ll likely find that you have less trouble falling and staying asleep, and that you wake more refreshed.
Don’t let deadlines wear you down and keep you up at night. The second you receive an assignment or notification about an upcoming exam, set time aside during the day or early evening to take care of business. If you give yourself plenty of time to prepare, you will decrease the number of late night study sessions and fall asleep with greater ease knowing that you’ve managed to take care of your work.