It’s common for students to slip into a less healthy lifestyle at university, for example through diets of fast food and alcohol, and less exercise. Despite this, it may be easier than you think to make sure you stay healthy. There are a few core fundamentals to consider to take proper care of your body, but first of all, don’t forget to start with the basics. Make sure you have registered with a doctor, and get a winter flu jab as soon as possible from a local pharmacy (less than £10) to avoid that Freshers flu!
We all know what’s good for us and what’s not, but how many of us know if we’re getting everything we need from our food? Since becoming a vegetarian a couple of years ago I became interested (partly out of necessity) in what vitamins and nutrients were in my food. I discovered that I (as well as many other meat eaters) was not getting everything I needed nutritionally. An omnivorous diet does not necessarily guarantee a balanced diet, and the ‘everything in moderation’ rule seems reductionist to me.
Becoming more interested in health, I wanted to improve my diet to make sure I was getting the things veggies may become deficient in, such as Iron, Vitamin B12, and Protein. Google will tell you the sources of these if you are interested, but if you’re wondering how you can assess your own diet, the best option I found was a free app called MyFitnessPal. This lets you scan the bar codes of everything you eat/drink, as well as search for homemade foods. This lets you track the vitamins you consume against their recommended targets, so you can see which you need more of and make dietary adjustments accordingly.
The NHS recommends around 30 minutes of exercise a day for the average adult to stay fit. This should include aerobic activity and strength exercises. In addition, we need to make a more conscious effort to sit less and move more.
I’ve never been a gym-goer myself, but for aerobic activity we’re lucky to have such a beautiful city for walking, running or cycling around! The Hoe has great views as I’m sure you’ll all know, and evening runs can be particularly enjoyable around the Barbican as shown above. With the city and campus being so compact here, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of walking without really thinking about it, so we’re part way there already.
An often-neglected but imperative part of your overall health is your mental health. University can be stressful which can lead to illness. It’s important to take breaks and enjoy yourself. Day trips help me de-stress, I recently went to Thorpe Park (below), but exercise can also help with this, as well as practising mindfulness through meditation, yoga, or simple breathing exercises. The importance of this is underestimated, so look after yourself and indulge in some you-time every now and again. Another part of this is your sleep pattern. Too much or too little could be harmful, so try to keep it reasonably consistent and keep the inevitable power naps to 20 minutes or so.
To summarise, eat well and consider multivitamin supplements, even if you eat meat. Sit less and move more throughout the day. Take some time to just think and reflect, and try and maintain a consistent sleep pattern of around 7-8 hours. These small changes in your lifestyle could have some profound changes on how healthy and happy you feel, so if you want to get healthier, keep at it and good luck!
Talk soon people,