The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association encourage college students to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Robbinsville, NJ, August 17, 2015— Running to class because you hit snooze an extra time? Staying up late to finish that paper due tomorrow? We know you’re tempted to buy junk food and an energy drink to keep you going. But think before you reach for foods and drinks high in sugar, sodium and fat because making healthy choices throughout college is about more than just fitting into your skinny jeans.
College is a balancing act—learning to budget your time, your bank account and most importantly, your health. The choices you make today are setting you up for future success. Shouldn’t your health be at the top of your priority list?
According to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, nearly 69 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers.
Check out this ‘study guide’ to help your health exam.
- 1.Buddy up. Whether you’re new to campus and hoping to meet new people or an upperclassmen looking to expand your network, working out is a great way to make friends. Join a rec team, stop by the campus gym or ask a dorm mate to be a running buddy. You’ll both benefit from physical activity, and working out with a friend or team will help you stay accountable.
- 2.Stay hydrated my friends. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Reach for water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks, which add extra calories with little nutritional value. Plain water too boring? Try sparkling water or add fruit wedges to jazz it up.
- 3.Hop over to the bar—the Salad Bar! Cafeteria-style dining halls often offer options laden with fat, calories, sodium and added sugar. Instead, opt for the salad bar and fill your plate with leafy greens and other veggies, lean protein and lite dressing. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommends eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
- 4.Room service. While your college dorm probably doesn’t offer in-room catering, you can keep healthy snacks at the ready. Opt for fresh fruits and veggies, low-fat whole-grain crackers and unsalted nuts and seeds when snacking in your room.
- 5.Work it out. It’s raining. I’m tired. The gym is too far. There are a ton of excuses for not working out, but the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommends it daily (at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week). When you can’t seem to leave your dorm, try an indoor circuit. Do 10-20 reps of each: push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges and jogging in place. Repeat until you’ve reached 30 minutes.
- 6.Be a quitter. Smoking is one of the top three leading risk factors for disease, including heart disease and stroke. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. For help quitting, visit your school’s counseling center or go to www.heart.org/quitsmoking.
- 7.Relax! Easier said than done, right? Stress can affect everyone differently, but for some it can mean physical (tense, sore muscles) or emotional (feeling helpless or depressed) affects. Fight stress with healthy habits such as taking a walk, calling a friend or practicing yoga. For more tips on fighting stress, visit www.heart.org/stressmanagement.
- 8.Go fish! We’re not pushing a deep sea expedition, but eating fish (especially the oily kind, like salmon or trout) twice a week is good for your heart. Always opt for baked, broiled or grilled instead of fried.
- 9.Slow down there, slugger. Let’s just say, drink in moderation. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and can have other negative effects on your health. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommends no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Tiny umbrella optional.
- 10.Take your phone out. No, not to tweet. To check your portions. One of the easiest pitfalls for college students is all-you-can- eat cafeterias. Portion control can help you keep track of the foods you are consuming without going overboard. For instance, a serving of chicken breast (3 ounces) is about the size of a smart phone and a medium banana is about the size of a pencil. For more portion comparisons, check out www.heart.org/PortionDistortion.
Looking for more tips on maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle? Visit www.heart.org/GettingHealthy.