Using Your Phone to Stave Off Freshmen 15 and Beyond
One of the things incoming students dread the most is the infamous Freshman Fifteen. While this popular myth has been proven to be an exaggeration, studies have found that the majority of college students – not just first years – do gain some weight in college due to reasons varying from unhealthy diets to lack of quality sleep. For a student that is always on the go, remembering to eat healthy snacks, hydrate, and get regular exercise can seem impossible. Luckily, there are several free phone apps that a student can download to help monitor their health.
One prominent issue among modern college students is something known as “food insecurity”. Food insecurity occurs when students are unable to consistently access “healthy” foods for financial reasons, leading to a monotonous diet which could result in malnutrition. Other recent studies have found that many college students aren’t getting anywhere near the right amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets, which could deprive them of vital nutrients and cause a number of problems including stress and lack of sleep.
An app that can help solve this issue is MyFitnessPal. Free for use with advertisements, MyFitnessPal has the ability to track the nutritional content of the foods a person consumes in a day. It can inform a person when they are consuming more than the recommended amount of sugar, sodium, or unhealthy fats as well as alert them if they aren’t getting enough essential nutrients like fiber, iron, Vitamin A, or Vitamin C. It also reminds the user if they have skipped a meal, another unhealthy habit common among college students.
Exercise is another essential part of staying healthy in college. While Southwestern students are fortunate enough to have free access to the Robertson Center, outdoor activities such as running, biking, or even taking a short walk have been proven to not only benefit physical health, but also mental health. Runkeeper is another free app that uses virtual maps to help plan where the user will exercise. The exercises available include anything from a morning run to hiking to downhill skiing or mountain biking. Runkeeper also has the ability to track the user’s exercise as they go and can periodically inform them how much time has passed, how far they have gone, and what their average pace is, making this a potentially useful app for any students who are planning on participating in upcoming races or other events.
Dehydration is another common issue that can lead to a variety of health issues. For people who want to stay hydrated but have a hard time remembering or staying motivated, there is the app Plant Nanny. Plant Nanny has users maintain a virtual plant of their choosing by watering it every time they drink a cup of water. The “plant” conveniently needs to be given the same amount of water each day that the user is recommended to drink.
Staying healthy in college is no easy task, but when it comes to stress levels and preparing for one’s future, leading an unhealthy lifestyle certainly does more harm than good. Luckily, with the right amount of dedication, a healthier college experience can be made that much more attainable with just a few taps on your cell phone each day.