This week is National Public Health week, and while every student probably already knows the basics of college health—exercising, eating right, sleeping enough—many still are unable to get everything done on a daily basis, or they simply go through the motions, jogging while stressing about schoolwork or napping at their desk during a study break.
Starting this week, though, health can mean breaking the routine and thinking outside the box for quick and creative ways that better yourself for the long haul and protect yourself against illnesses that set you back in the classroom and at home.
Here are some methods you might not have thought of that will quickly improve your day, your week, and your overall health in minutes.
Interval training One of the biggest “hacks” being talked about in the exercise world today is “high intensity interval training”, or HIIT. In HIIT, participants are less worried about extended periods of running or swimming, and more concerned about pushing their cardio to the limits and then resting strategically before they once again push themselves. Doing HIIT over traditional cardio workouts can not only shorten your workouts, but also make them more efficient as you focus on heart rate and recovery rather than just working up a sweat or reaching a time-based goal.
Hand washing Of course, right? While it seems obvious, students should remember that hand washing is not just reserved for the bathroom. During flu season especially, the germs that can hurt you the most are all over the place and washing your hands regularly throughout the day as well as using hand sanitizer after activities like using an ATM or handling a shopping cart can pay huge dividends when it comes to staying productive and avoiding a sick day.
Thinking sleep Just saying you’ll go to bed earlier or take a nap later isn’t enough to cure your sleep woes. If you’re fatigued often in the day, the most important thing is to diagnose it and work through your findings. If you’re drinking caffeine late in the day (read: after noon), or leaving your allergies untreated or even eating certain foods before bed, stopping these habits first is crucial to not only sleeping more but sleeping better.
Using sunscreen Unlike many other health issues related to college students, sunscreen is one of they few that you won’t truly appreciate until many years down the road. While, yes, nobody likes a sunburn while they’re trying to run to class or take a shower, skin cancer, which usually comes on much later in life, is one of the most treated forms of the disease and is almost always a result of too much UV exposure. Taking just five minutes to apply a good sunscreen for you before going outside will ensure your skin stays healthy and glowing for now and for the rest of your life.
Petting your problems away It isn’t always easy to simply take a deep breath, say “everything’s going to be alright,” and actually believe it. Thankfully, there are other methods that have been proven to ease students’ minds and calm them down when stress levels are high. For veterans especially, dogs and cats have shown to increase happiness and decrease stress in all individuals while for students, who often live in small apartments that don’t allow pets, a simple purr or wagging tail every now and then can especially remind us of the little things that are important in life. So the next time you’re stressed, take a quick trip to your local animal shelter and ease your mind.
Steaming vegetables Boiling or sautéing your vegetables might be easiest method of preparation, but this method may actually be costing you valuable nutrients, as getting vegetables too hot can cause them to lose essential vitamins either to the water they’re being boiled in, or to get destroyed by intense levels of heat. Instead, a quick blanch or steam can be enough to get your vegetables soft enough to absorb seasonings, but still hearty enough to contain the benefits your body needs. And, it’s faster.
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