Whether you’re new to campus this year or a hardened student well into their fourth year the incorrectly named ‘Freshers’ Flu’ can strike at any point. So despite being a third year here at Stevo, I am currently sitting and writing at my desk with a piping-hot Lemsip for company and struggling to concentrate beyond the barking cough which often has my peers asking if a dog has been let loose in lectures. With this in mind, here are my top tip for staying healthy at uni.
This blog isn’t just for those who might like to lose a few pounds here or there. There’s ways in which being healthy can benefit us all! Firstly, the stereotypical diet of students lives in infamy with our parents and carers who have managed to get us our five-a-day thus far in life, only to have all their cooking-based work undone by the magic of pot noodles and microwavable chips! I can’t stress highly enough how important it is to get those vitamins and minerals into your system; they fight your regular hangovers much more effectively than the hair of the dog, and will give you the energy to write your best assignment yet. They will improve your concentration dramatically when it comes to exam time or when the ominous deadlines begin coming thick and fast. Additionally, when you inevitably get ill (which you will) and wish you were back home where family can pander on your every command, they’ll really show their true colours and fight back any bugs, making your recovery time shorter and have you back on your feet and having fun in no time!
Now it’s all well and good me rambling on about how eating healthily will rejuvenate all these aspects of your life but which foodstuffs should become your regular cupboard dwellers to feel the benefits?
- Fruit – I’m not going to argue bananas, apples or nectarines are the best because of XYZ. Frankly, I have better things to do with my time, so instead I’m going to recommend fruit in general. When you’re rolling out of bed dangerously close to when a lecture starts it’s a fantastic way to start the day. Those natural sugars will give you the boost you need in a decent breakfast. And with Stockon’s market a brief walk away you can get this healthy snack at a much cheaper price than the alternative of grabbing a breakfast pastry from one of Stockton’s many Greggs.
- Spinach – I’m not saying this to turn you into an Army of Popeye lookalikes! I really do think spinach is a superfood, it’s loaded with vitamins and gives a really healthy dose of iron, something particularly useful given that red meat is beyond the budget of many of us. Simply buy a massive bag, cook over boiling water in a sieve and to store just use the freezer: it’ll defrost as it cooks and this will make it go further. If spinach isn’t to your taste, kale or broccoli are good alternatives (basically anything green).
- Eggs – I probably don’t need to tell you about how good they are for you. The whites will give you 3 types of vitamins, zinc and copper. The yolks are loaded with good cholesterol and protein. You can’t go wrong here, and even the most novice chef can learn how to scramble, boil or poach! They’re also fairly cheap, and can serve as a breakfast, lunch or dinner!
- Fish – Salmon is everyone’s go to example, but fish generally will always point you in the right direction. Loaded with Omega-3 (apparently the best thing since sliced bread) and full of high quality protein; it can be a pleasant change from chicken every week, and fillets aren’t really that much more expensive nowadays.
- Sweet potato – It’s so great it has even made its way into the hall of fame otherwise known as the emoji keyboard! Sweet potato overs a flavoursome, versatile way of getting carbohydrates into your diet. Roast, grill or bake your way towards a diet filled with essentials like potassium and magnesium using this fantastic food.
Another idea on the health front might be to shop around for some kitchen appliances that will make your life easier. When you’re moving into your new house why not club together for a house smoothie-maker or George Foreman Grill? (Who could resist that cheesy smile?) Kitting yourself out with these products means that not only the food that you’re eating is healthy, but that the way that you’re cooking it is equally good for you! By attacking on all fronts you’re sure to feel the effects of an improved diet in no time. Additionally, why not make use of social media? There’s countless health-food bloggers which cater for students on a budget who will suggest a different recipe every day of the week!
With a healthy diet your body will be feeling like a temple on the inside, so now is the time that you might want to begin making that show on the outside! Fitness is the ying, where health is the yang – they’re two side of the same coin, and a combination of the two can make you feel seriously good about yourself. Here at Durham you have a multitude of ways to get active!
Sports and societies are the most obvious way, and arguably the best! The social side is fantastic for starters but as you are pushed by your teammates and vice versa your fitness will improve. Most college teams run training sessions a few times a week, with games on the weekend so the regular cardio workout will boost your stamina and your metabolism will speed up in response. I’m not going to insult your intelligence about having why having your heart pumping is so important – just get out there and make it happen.
Finally there’s a number of gyms in and around campus for you to use. Splash for those in Stockton, Queen’s campus gymnasium for those in halls and Xercise4Less based in Thornaby. Here you’ll be able to pursue more cardiovascular workouts beyond joining a sports team and you’ll be able to add in a weights programme to really improve results. The classes on offer are also a great way of having fun while benefiting your body. Gym sessions are proven to decrease stress, make you feel good and can arguably burn calories quicker than some alternative techniques. Get yourself a gym buddy who can motivate you to go even when you’re doing everything to avoid the North Eastern weather and stay in bed. Then the gym can become a really social activity that offers a productive break from the continuous cycle of assignments, nights out and Netflix.
Health and fitness means different things to different people and what I suggest might not work for you and that’s ok! However I would say that if you can find a good balance there’s no reason for you to feel guilty about the occasional dominos or ready meal. Also I would say don’t let health and fitness become the dominant factor in your life, it doesn’t really matter if a two day hangover means you don’t visit the gym all weekend! Instead try and take little steps towards a healthier lifestyle and hopefully you’ll see the benefits yourself; making your university experience all the better! Work together, share your tips and ideas, and we’ll make Stevo the healthiest and happiest college of them all.
See you around,