Staying Fit while Learning Online
Make no mistake, online learning is the only way to obtain your degree these days. The versatility and opportunities far outweigh anything that a traditional brick and mortar school can offer except for that long hike in between classes. As you pursue your degree on your PC or laptop you will find it very addicting. Networking with students from all over the world, having resources at your fingertips 24/7, and just having the drive and desire to be the best student that you can be will keep you, voluntarily, at that keyboard. What you have to keep in mind, however; is the fact that you will still need to follow a well-balanced diet and engage in regular exercise.
Tips for a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult for any college student, online or not. The time and money you now are spending on school will pay off in the future, but can put you in a pinch now. While there are many tips available for healthful and inexpensive grocery shopping, let’s review some basic rules for healthy eating.
The amount of calories you consume per day should be equal to the amount you burn off per day to maintain weight, and the amount you consume should be less than the amount you burn off to lose weight. While this is a no-brainer, it’s something we tend to ignore as we down our third Pumpkin Spice Latte studying for finals. While everyone has a different daily calorie requirement based on age, weight, and level of physical activity, this typically ranges from 1,800-2,400 calories per day for women and 2,000-3,200 calories per day for men. There are many free resources online to help you determine your personal daily need, such as this Calorie Calculator by the Mayo Clinic. Here is another resource as well.
How much should you be eating each day and of which types of foods? This will also vary per person. The USDA recommends that the average person should eat 3 ounces of whole grains, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, and include some healthy oils, meats and proteins as well. This can all be adjusted for specific diets and food allergies and intolerances. More information on this can be found here.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that unnecessary calories are often packed into the typical college student’s day without notice. Try to avoid eating while at the computer or while studying. Non-caloric beverages and small low-calorie snacks can be allowed to keep you hydrated and maintain your blood sugar, but mindlessly eating food while doing work can add on accidental calories (and weight) too easily. When you decide to eat your meals, take time out to sit, enjoy, and pay attention to what you’re eating. Check out how WebMD suggests ways to avoid mindless eating.
Tips to stay fit
Becoming an online student almost certainly guarantees more idle time as you watch lectures, work on assignments, and study. Many careers also require ample time sitting, however, so this is something you may get accustomed to over time. Exercise is key for students to help relieve stress, improve sleep, and maintain physical fitness. If you currently have an exercise regimen that you follow, stick with it. If you don’t have an exercise plan in place, you should begin one. Plans can range from walking, to weight training, to yoga, and to more intense exercising such as running or swimming. Activities such as running and walking can be free. Online exercise classes can be done in the comfort of your own home, and many are free. Check out Blogilates and PopSugar for free pilates and fitness videos. Many more can be found on YouTube. Joining a gym can be a worthwhile investment, too, especially if group fitness classes and weight training are things you enjoy. Gyms often provide discounted membership rates for students, so be sure to ask.
The key is to find something you enjoy doing. In addition, find time during your day to stretch, get fresh air, and get your blood flowing while hard at work. Please discuss any diet or exercise plan with your physician before starting.
Tips for the night owl
If you tend to do most of your online work during the late night hours, try to limit your caffeine intake. Stick with bottled water, seltzer water and decaffeinated tea. If you find that you do need to snack, eat healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and small portions of healthy nuts such as almonds. I know that this may sound very textbook and boring but trust me as the pounds can creep up on you while your main focus is on obtaining your degree. I put on 20 extra pounds during my undergraduate degree and vowed to take it off while I was studying for my graduate degree. I can proudly say that I did it by following the few tips that I have offered to you. I lost the weight and I also felt better and could think clearer. Enjoy your online learning experience and stay fit!
Deanna Miller RN MSN/Ed HCE graduated in 1995 from the University of New York, Albany and later went on to obtain her BSN and MSN with a certification in Health Care Education from the University of Phoenix, Online. Ms. Miller currently works as a Manager of Intensive Care in a University Hospital. She is also a published author and content expert for several educational publishing companies. Degree Jungle Staff