Why Students Should Stay Fit and Healthy During Isolation

Published on: January 23, 2021

Going to university is an opportunity for growing and learning, but for many students it also means freedom. Since it is often their first year away from home freshmen, in particular, can find their newfound independence overwhelming. This, coupled with the stress of studying lack of sleep often results in less than healthy lifestyles among students. Partying is one way for students to unwind and socialize, but there is always the risk of getting caught up in alcohol or drug abuse. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that this situation is being made even worse due to Covid-19 isolation.

A study by the University of Saskatchewan has found that not only are the diets and activity levels of students getting worse but that they are also consuming more alcohol. The study was based on undergraduate and graduate students who had to take care of themselves instead of being able to rely on meal plans from their parents. It was found that in addition to drastically cutting back on vegetables they were also consuming a lot less meat and dairy. For many, the reason is back-to-back classes which don’t' leave a lot of time to prepare something healthy for breakfast or lunch. For others, convenience has become a top priority for meals. Just as concerning is the drop in activity levels for students, which means they are not getting enough exercise per week. Students sitting in front of their computer or laptop all day attending online classes are less likely to get up and move around like when they were attending physical classes.

One of the big concerns is that the new habits being formed by students during Covid-19 isolation can become very hard to break in the future. Many gyms are closed due to the pandemic and students who are stressed or demotivated are more likely to eat unhealthy foods instead of taking the time to prepare healthy meals. There are a couple of things that students can do to prevent themselves from falling into an unhealthy rut, though. One of the most important things to do is to stay active at home, which can be accomplished through household chores and cleaning. Whenever possible, students should take regular breaks and add physical activity to their daily routines. Maintaining a proper daily routine can also help with managing the stress of isolation.

It is not unusual for students to eat more than what is healthy when distracted or rushed. Taking a break from the computer or phone while eating will make it easier to pay attention to the portions that are being consumed. The same goes for eating food or snacks straight from the bag or box. The World Health Organization has suggested using national food-based dietary guidelines for clarification on what constitutes healthy portions for adults.

Finally, students need to stay connected even during periods of isolation. Talking with loved ones can be good for your mental health and there are many programs and apps available that make it easier than ever to stay connected. News and social media on the other hand can be a big trigger for anxiety, so limiting exposure to these can also be good for the well-being of students. Many universities have moved their student counseling services online too, so students should take advantage of these if they are available.

The bottom line is that university can be stressful at the best of times and the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased the burden on students. By making a conscious effort to focus on their health and well-being students can ensure that they are mentally prepared for a time when they can return to campus safely.

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