How to Avoid the 'Freshman 15'

It's no secret that obtaining a college education takes time, dedication and hard work. According to, the 'freshman 15' is real, and one in four first-year, first-semester students gain at least 10 pounds over the course of the semester. Many students have the misconception that they will no longer have any time to work out once they start school. Finding free time to exercise is even more complicated for students who also have full-time jobs. By squeezing in some exercise into each day, students can still stay healthy while focusing on their college careers.

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Benefits of Physical Activity

The health benefits of exercise cannot be disputed. Students are known for adding on the pounds throughout their college careers because of a lack of exercise combined with unhealthy eating at all-you-can eat dining halls, excessive drinking, and different lifestyle habits.

Exercise helps to keep off excess weight and it increases muscle mass. Besides physical benefits, here are other benefits:

  • The Mayo Clinic says that physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
  • Regular physical activity helps you prevent or manage health problems including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and arthritis.
  • Regular workouts may actually help increase energy levels. In fact, the Mayo Clinic shares that physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently—thus creating more 'natural' energy.

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Downtime: Do Work

The best way to fit exercise into a busy schedule is to utilize downtime to its fullest potential. It is easy to assume that there is never any free time in a given day, but the more structured a schedule is, the more opportunities for workouts should arise. It is far better to complete a few 10-minute workouts throughout the day then it is to give up hope and skip exercise altogether.

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How do you do that? Easy—vary your physical activity by walking to class, taking the stairs, attending often 'free' fitness classes, biking to and from your job, and even watching quick workout videos on YouTube.
Whether a student takes classes in-person or online, there is downtime between classes, work, and studying. Take a quick walk during breaks and grab a pair of dumbbells to build muscle at the same time.

After eating a light lunch, try some yoga stretches or tai chi to increase awareness and decrease the chances of sleepiness.

If you are gung ho about losing a large amount of weight, get up extra early and commit each morning to a workout video like P90X.

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