If you just headed off to college in the fall, you’ve probably encountered dozens of warnings from seasoned veterans who learned life lessons the hard way. Don’t sleep through too many classes before finals, never put off group projects until the last minute, and don’t schedule 8 A.M. classes are classic pieces of advice that have proven over and over again to be useful. However, the scariest warning of them all is that of the Freshman 15 – after departing Mom and Dad’s house and armed with a meal card that buys you unlimited Chick-fil-A and Starbucks frappucino, your health might not be what it was in high school. Although for years, we’ve brushed that off as a warning, unfortunately, a new study shows that college weight gain is a very real thing for most of us.
A new study in the Journal of Nutritional and Educational Behavior shows that, on average, college students leave undergrad ten pounds heavier than when they arrived. On the plus side, you’re unlikely to gain all ten pounds your freshman year – the study indicates that 3 of the 10 pounds gained on average are during your first year of college – a couple pounds each year adds up. Additionally, for many, this weight gain causes health concerns as well, as the percentage of overweight or obese study participants increased 78% over four years in college.
If you’re starting to despair, know that all hope isn’t lost – there’s a clear reason for this weight increase that can be actively combated. The study showed that while 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week is recommended, only 15% of participants reached that level. Additionally, the majority of students (over half) weren’t consuming recommended levels of fruits and vegetables either. So instead of napping in between your classes, use your student ID to take a couple of free spin classes a week and opt for some fresh fruits and salad in the cafeteria, and you’ll be on your way to peak fitness in no time..
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