Avoid the 'freshman 15,' stay healthy on campus

Moving to a college campus means being away from Mom's home-cooked meals and your high school sports practice. How do you stay healthy and avoid gaining the notorious "freshman 15?" Anne Hogan, nurse practitioner, and Lisa Thomas, registered dietician at the Syracuse University Health Center, provide some useful advice on how to stay healthy away from home your freshman year.

The major transitioning point is the dining halls and being exposed to junk food all the time without your parents reminding you to eat or providing you with adequate balanced meals.

"It's important to plan ahead and have a basic idea of what you need to be eating-a protein, a carbohydrate, a grain and a fruit or a vegetable," Thomas said.

In terms of exercise, there are lots of resources on all college campuses to stay active. Through Syracuse University Recreation Services there are exercise classes, multiple gyms and intramural sports available to students.

"I have a lot of freshmen students that come to us feeling tired who were athletes in high school," Hogan said. "They get here and they don't do anything and so they don't have any energy-the more you exercise the more energy you'll have."

It's important to pick an activity that you enjoy doing as well, Thomas pointed out.

"If you have to drag yourself to the gym, don't go to the gym-go out to Beaver Lake or Green Lakes and go for a hike, or go to the library and take out some workout DVDS and do them in your room," Thomas suggested.

It's easy to feel too busy to exercise on campus when you're trying to balance a new social life and homework. Before you get down on yourself for not being active enough, think about how much walking you do on campus. Hogan and Thomas note that most students walk between 20 to 40 minutes a day. If you're doing that briskly, you're meeting the requirements for exercise that require 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Think small if you don't have time-take the stairs or walk the long way; it all adds up.

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