The 8 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective College Students

You’re in college, you’re having the best damn time of your life, and suddenly you realize that you should probably attend your classes from time-to-time, be a productive member of society, and most importantly – stay healthy. 

We planned to spend over a million dollars researching the best practices of healthy college students and in the end came to this conclusion: lets just ask college students, duh.

After talking with several college students, recent graduates, and young health professionals, we have compiled a list that we like to refer to as “The 8 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective College Students.” 

Think we left something important off of this list that you want us to include?  Leave it as a comment below and we will be sure to add it.  Enjoy!

1.  Pack a Snack – College schedules can be crazy; between classes, work, and meetings (not to mention getting from place to place), it can often be tough to find the time to get home and satisfy your hunger in between meals.  Unfortunately, vending machine options are rarely healthy, and, let’s be honest, who wants to drop four dollars on a fruit cup at the student center when they’ll give you chips for a buck?  An easy solution is always keeping a smart and filling snack in your bag.  My favorite convenient choices are apples, bananas, or a handful of nuts.  It’s a cheap and easy way to cut down on calories, and the protein and fiber will silence that rumbling stomach.

~ Provided by Jillian Jatres, Health Behavior Science Major (UDel 2012)

2.  Lose Your Keys – For native suburbanites like myself, college campuses present a refreshing new opportunity.  Most things are within walking distance, so why not take advantage?  Whenever possible, make the choice to walk.  All those short spurts really add up by the end of the day, and without even realizing it, you’re lowering your blood pressure, managing your weight, and de-stressing all while getting some fresh air!

Provided by Jillian Jatres, Health Behavior Science Major (UDel 2012)

3.  Start a Schedule – If you’re having trouble finding the time to exercise, you may be surprised by the free time hiding in your schedule. Trust me – take another look!  Try penciling in gym time between your classes while you’re already out of the house and probably close to the university fitness center. You’re far more likely to get moving if you treat it as another appointment in your schedule. Make it non-negotiable.

~ Provided by Jillian Jatres, Health Behavior Science Major (UDel 2012)

4.  Easy Freezey – A cheap and simple tip is to stock up on frozen vegetables.  Grocery stores today are packed with timesaving options to help you up the green stuff in your diet.  Single serving microwaveable bags make a perfect side dish at any meal!  Or open up a few bags of different colored veggies, throw some in a pan, and you’ll have the world’s quickest stir fry all the while getting a good variety of the nutrients your body needs!  And for all you Italian lovers, throw peas, carrots, and broccoli into your pasta water or sauce during the last few minutes.  No washing or chopping…it truly can’t get easier.

P.S. Corey’s personal favorite: single serving frozen packets of Edamame.  Oh the Soy!

Provided by Jillian Jatres, Health Behavior Science Major (UDel 2012)

5.  Multiply Your Meals – Now this trick requires a little more, ahem, self control. On a night when you have the time and motivation to cook a meal, make yourself two servings.  Preparing the extra ingredients takes only a minute more, and it’s much faster than cooking the same meal twice.  But here’s the catch – as soon as the food is ready, immediately put half of it in a storage container and pop it in the fridge.  If it’s out of sight, you’re much more likely to leave it there until the next day when you’re too busy to cook.  Aim for a good balance of lean protein and whole grains with plenty of veggies – it will leave you feeling much more satisfied than the fast food you could grab on your way home.

~ Provided by Jillian Jatres, Health Behavior Science Major (UDel 2012)

6.  Flossing – Ah, flossing. In the rap world it means, “Showing off”; for example, “wow, when he drives around in his Range Rover, that homie is really flossing!” Unfortunately, to the majority of the population, flossing is something dreaded and avoided at all costs. What you may not know, though, is that flossing can add years onto your life! Cleaning between your teeth once a day helps to eliminate harmful inflammation and bacteria that can easily get into your bloodstream and contribute to heart disease. Flossing also reduces the incidence of cavities and prevents periodontal disease. So next time you want to “floss”, ditch the Range Rover, and floss!

~ Provided by Mary Beth Sorrentino, D.M.D. (JMU 2007, UPenn 2011)


7.  Listening– Nobody knows your body better than you. Overtraining, overexertion, and being overextended is pretty common and more often than not we don’t even realize that we are a yes-titute until it’s too late. Take a day off from the gym when you need it, don’t pencil in that extra sorority, fraternity or SGA meeting, and frankly, just learn to say no.  Never ignore a warning sign that could mean a potential injury, the beginning of illness, or simply fatigue. There’s nothing like injury, illness, or exhaustion to put a damper in your social life.

 ~ Provided by Corey M. Schwartz, M.S., ACSM-HFS, PAPHS (JMU 2006, UDel 2009)

8.  Sleep – Simple enough, right?  Sleep is an absolute necessity when it comes to muscle repair and growth and helping you fight the good fight when recovering from illness.  I remember when I was an undergraduate student and use to brag about how little sleep I was currently functioning on.  I kind of find that statement to be ironic now because in retrospect, I was hardly functioning (See: passed out on ISAT couch at JMU, multiple times).  In fact, I clearly remember getting into arguments with friends, trying to one-up each other on whom had accomplished more with the least amount of sleep.  Point blank – I was an idiot. 

Brag about your awesome workout, first date, student organization accomplishments, or even streaking the quad – but your lack of sleep, my friends, is nothing to brag about.  Goal: aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night… although some people will tend to need more.

 ~ Provided by Corey M. Schwartz, M.S., ACSM-HFS, PAPHS (JMU 2006, UDel 2009)


  One thought on “The 8 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective College Students

  1. September 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Love it! I recently went to the dentist and found out that my whole life I’d been flossing wrong. No one had ever told me that you put the dental floss between the curvature of your gums/teeth. I’d just been pushing the floss upward between my teeth and never realized that there was more to it!


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