Starting college is one of the most exciting experiences: the independence, new friends and knowledge one comes in touch with are unmatched. However, it also means facing a host of adjustments to new schedules and routines, which can take a toll on students’ health and weight.

While research shows the average weight gain during that first year away from home isn’t typically the “freshman fifteen” but more in the range of 2 to 9 pounds, it is still important for students to find ways to be active, reduce stress and maintain a healthy eating plan.

How to Stay Fit, Active and Healthy in College

Whether it’s in the dorm or in between classes, here are some tips to help you squeeze in daily activity and eat well:

1. Walk to class.

Walking can help you burn calories, improve muscle tone and reduce stress. Using a simple pedometer that clips to your waistband is a great way to monitor your daily walking activity. A healthy goal to try and reach is 10,000 steps per day.

2. Climb stairs on campus.

Climbing stairs is great for improving your cardiovascular fitness level. Plus, it works all of the muscles in the back of the legs and butt. If you can’t find a good set of stairs to climb, do step-ups instead. Aim to do the equivalent of 50 stairs per day.

3. Find a fitness deal.

Many colleges have recreational sports leagues and offer discounted gym memberships or fitness classes. Also, look online for a program that allows you to try a variety of local fitness classes at a discounted price.

4. Learn a few moves.

Perform bodyweight resistance exercises, such as simple squats, lunges and push-ups in your dorm or wherever you live. When you’re ready, you can progress to using weights. If you know how to do the basics, any time you have just a few minutes to spare you can maximize your time by getting stronger with simple exercises.

Try this simple no-equipment upper body strength workout to get started:

5. Snack well.

Whole fruits, protein bars, sticks of string cheese and cartons of yogurt are easy to carry and can be lifesavers when you get hungry and when fast food or vending machines are calling to you. Avoid empty calories and opt for nutrient-dense foods that are essential when you’re stressed and busy.

6. Don’t skip meals.

When you’re super-busy, it’s hard to make time to shop and prepare meals.  But nutritious meals will support the mental energy needed to perform well in class.  And, getting overly hungry often leads to overeating later on. When you’re pressed for time, whip up a protein shake for quick, on-the-go nutrition.

7. Watch beverage calories.

Alcoholic beverages are high in calories, but you can guzzle a lot of calories from non-alcoholic sodas and fruit drinks, too. Instead, aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water or plain tea per day – and even more if it’s hot or you’re exercising.

8. Beware of stress eating.

The stresses of adjusting to life on your own can lead to turning to food for comfort. If you catch yourself eating out of stress rather than hunger, call a family member or friend, or take a walk instead.

9. Avoid the fad diets.

Be on the look-out for trendy diets that promise immediate weight loss results! They can deprive you from essential nutrients or restrict your food intake in ways that are not healthy at all. Aim for an overall sustainable healthy lifestyle: one that involves balanced nutrition and regular exercise.

10. Find a fitness buddy.

Fitness is an awesome pretext to make new friends. Whether it’s a classmate, your roommate or someone whose schedule is similar to yours, it’s more likely you stick to a fitness routine if you have a partner to exercise with. Plus, having a friend by your side will boost your motivation.

Samantha Clayton

Samantha ClaytonOLY, ISSA-CPT – Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness Education

Samantha Clayton serves as the vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife. She is also the Vice Chair of the Fitness Advisory Board. Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. She is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. Clayton has an associate degree in pharmaceutical science and studied chemistry at the University of Wolverhampton. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s in medical nutrition from American Public University and Arizona State University, respectively. As a mother of four, she enjoys cheering for her kids at their sporting activities. Her favorite Herbalife product is Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength.