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staying healthy in college

5 Tips for Staying Healthy in College


Going away to college is exciting, it’s a time for learning, fun, and adventures. But adjusting to a new environment can take a toll on your health. Living in close quarters with other students certainly does not help – once one person catches a cold, it is only a matter of days until the entire residence hall is sneezing and coughing. Do not let a bug keep you from class and college life. Make sure you are healthy enough to take part in the fun with these easy tips.

Wash your hands

Probably the most important factor in avoiding illness, this age-old rule has likely been ingrained into your daily habits since childhood. However, a simple rinse after using the restroom is not enough when you are trying to stave off sickness. Proper handwashing is absolutely essential for staying healthy, so you should lather up as often as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends handwashing with soap and water with at least 20 seconds of scrubbing (that’s the same as singing the Happy Birthday song twice).

This is especially crucial if your roommate, friends or fellow dorm residents are sick, as you are constantly being exposed to whatever illness is going around. Make an effort to wash up whenever you can, as you will undoubtedly pick up germs from shared surfaces like doorknobs, desks and books. Additionally, avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes and nose in between washes, recommends the source. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is the next best choice. Be sure to follow the directions on the label for proper hand sanitizing instructions.

A healthy diet

Many people associate college with late-night pizza feasts and ramen noodle breakfasts, but students committed to staying healthy should avoid getting sucked into these harmful eating habits. Consuming a nutritious diet can help boost your immune system so you can effectively fight off diseases. In addition to eating fruits and veggies, incorporating garlic and coconut oil into your diet has been shown to improve immunity. You should also be vigilant about drinking plenty of water, as being dehydrated increases your risk of getting sick. Many college students do not consume enough H2O to counteract the amount of alcohol and coffee they drink, which can cause them to fall ill.

It is also important not to skip meals, especially breakfast, to make sure you have enough fuel to keep up with your busy schedule. Additionally, avoid excess eating during exams by finding a different stress-busting option, like a workout routine.

Avoid smokers

Everyone knows the dangers associated with smoking cigarettes, but few people truly grasp the dangers of secondhand smoke. U.S. News & World Report explains that cigarette smoke can actually carry the germs that cause meningitis, a serious illness that is often diagnosed in college students. Smoke can also cause general inflammation and irritation of the throat and lungs which can increase your chances of getting sick.

If your friends smoke, offer to help them find the resources they need to quit. Students living with dedicated smokers who have no intention of giving up their habit should consider using air purifiers in their rooms. These can help improve the air quality inside your room, which can be compromised if your roommate is bringing toxic smoke in via his or her clothes.

Lots of sleep

It can be tempting to cut back on shut-eye in college. Between attending class, hanging out with friends, studying, and going to work and clubs, many college students stretch themselves thin trying to fit all their activities and responsibilities in every day. While limiting your rest time to a few hours each night may allow you to participate in everything, not sleeping enough can mean serious consequences for your well-being.

In an article from Everyday Health, James Knepler, MD, associate professor and assistant director of the University of Cincinnati Comprehensive Sleep Center explains, “Decreased sleep can decrease your immune system,” he adds. “Certainly it’s stress just like any other stress to your immune system.” People who do not get enough sleep may be more prone to illness, as immune systems require rest in order to remain strong and functional. The source explains that college students should make an effort to get enough sleep every night (approximately 7 hours) to help them feel better, stay focused, and have the energy to do the things they want to do.

Getting a good night’s rest is essential for keeping up with all that college has to offer. Rutgers University Health Services suggested keeping caffeinated beverages to a minimum, establishing a bedtime with your roommates, and taking naps whenever you need them to keep your mind sharp and your body energized. Also, try to avoid pulling all-nighters – spread your workload throughout the week instead of leaving it all until the last minute.

A comfortable living space

Dorm rooms can seem uninviting, so it is important to make the proper adjustments. Make sure you have comfortable blankets and pillows. Add artwork and decorations to your walls to make space your own. Since dorm air can often be dry, a humidifier is a nice addition to any college living area. Lasko offers humidifiers in a variety of sizes, from 3 gallons to 12 gallons, with stylish and attractive designs to blend with any decor. Lasko humidifiers are also recirculating, so stale water is not left standing.

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