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Going to college for the first time marks a new beginning with infinite opportunities for life experience of all kinds. It is the first real taste of the joys and freedoms of adult life after many years of school. It’s a chance to build your own routine and lifestyle – though you have classes, outside of those hours you can organize your time just the way you want.

It’s important to keep fit, not just so that you look and feel good, but also so that you have the health and energy levels to get the best out of your time at college. With such a choice of ways to spend your time, you may find a lot of other activities competing with your well-intentioned plan to look after yourself. Here are five tips on how to keep in shape and stick to that golden plan that you set yourself before all the other offers start flooding in:

Choose a fitness activity that you enjoy

There are so many sports and fitness options these days that you can find something that’s right for you, whatever your personality. College is a fantastic place to try something new, so if you’ve always wondered what it would be like to do martial arts or ping pong, now is your chance. If possible, go with a couple of friends so that it’s a social event, and if one of you can’t make it, the other two can still keep the date. Complement your regular high-impact activities with lots of walking. Skip the bus whenever you can in favor of some fresh air and daily exercise that will maintain your shape and your energy levels.

Stick at a workout routine

When is your favorite time of the day for keeping fit? Choose a time of day for your activity that suits your own temperament and energy levels so that you are ready to enjoy your chosen fitness activity on a week-to-week basis. Keep it regular, and notice how much better you feel and how much more alert you are when you sit down to study afterwards. Fitness is one of the best ways to beat stress, and if you have a solid fitness routine in place from the start, you will really appreciate it once deadlines and exams start to kick in.

Get the right fitness gear

If you look good, you feel more positive and motivated. Invest in well-fitting, up-to-the-minute styles so that you see yourself at your sporting best. Comfort is a top priority, and you can maximize your performance by choosing soft, breathable fabrics and easy-dry compression clothing that offers extra support. Comfortable, supportive footwear is essential for every activity from golf and tennis through to hiking. To look after your feet and ankles, choose women’s shoe inserts – you can get them here – that provide shock absorption and support for better body alignment. You can save time by wearing workout clothes to class; you can schedule your workout immediately afterwards, leaving more time for other activities.

Eat right

Make the most of the college dining hall because regular mealtimes keep you fueled for the demands of college life. If you are cooking for yourself, ask friends and get online so that you can build up a repertoire of quick, healthy meals that you can slot into busy schedules. Fill your fridge with healthy food so that when you feel hungry between meals, you reach for the hummus and carrots before the cookies and ice cream. When buying food, remember that those delicious-looking raspberries, blueberries, or almonds that cost a dollar more than you’d like are really a healthy treat. If you spend the dollar consciously now, you won’t throw it away later on an emergency packet of potato chips. When you are kind to yourself and make plans ahead of time, you look and feel better.

Sleep well

You’re going to have a lot of great late nights, but that doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of sleep the rest of the time. When you rest and sleep well, you are less likely to look for energy boosts in snacks that contain salt, sugar, and fat. If hot summer nights are more of a nightmare than a midsummer night’s dream, try to get a room with air conditioning, or buy an electric fan. Make sure that your bedroom has blinds or thick drapes because a dark room makes for better sleep quality. Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime, and do something relaxing such as taking a bath, reading a good book, or listening to music.

College life is an action-packed mix of intellectual, sporting, cultural, and social activities. With a bit of planning, you can fit in multiple experiences and get the most out of your time. Get the balance right and you’ll have a treasury of memories and experiences that will set you up for a better life.

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