Staying Healthy at University [How To Guide]

Feb 10, 2021

While you may be focused on other things, staying healthy while at university should always be your first priority. To help you with this, here are my best tips for keeping healthy, and will focus on maintaining a healthy diet, mental health and regular exercise.

1: Maintain a Healthy Diet

One of the most important ways to keep healthy at university is a balanced diet. While you should already know the basics of how to do this, it is important to put this knowledge into practice instead of just being satisfied that you know the theory of staying healthy. 

Your healthy diet should obviously include plenty of fruit and vegetables, in addition to the other food types, such as carbohydrates, protein, dairy. All of these are explained in more detail in the NHS Eatwell Guide

Your diet is especially important at university, as eating healthily can improve your memory, focus and even maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day. This will greatly benefit both your written work, and your ability to get the most out of both lectures and seminars. 

For the former, it will be easier to focus on what is being said and then translate the most relevant parts into detailed notes, while for the latter, your preparatory reading will be more effective, ensuring that you make the best contribution possible. 

On the other hand, it is important to avoid eating too many snacks while at university, as doing so will hamper the healthy lifestyle that will make your time there easier. While it is perfectly fine to eat unhealthy food occasionally, doing so too often will lead to decreased productivity and just make your life harder in the long term for what is a very short term benefit. 

Although this blog post is specifically about how to eat healthily during exams, the tips it provides can help improve your diet throughout the rest of your time at university as well. 

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

2: Drink Plenty of Water

Another tip for keeping healthy while at university is to make sure you are drinking enough water so that you are always hydrated. The benefits of this are similar to those gained by maintaining a healthy diet, such increased levels of concentration, while also reducing the chance of headaches.

Other benefits include reduced anxiety and helping to improve performance during exercise.

While it is common knowledge that you should drink roughly eight cups of water per day, this trope comes with a couple of asterisks attached.

First of all, other liquids with low sugar are also included in this, such as tea, coffee and milk. Secondly, the amount of water you will need to consume will change depending on the circumstances, as it is recommended to drink more water than usual if you are exercising or if it is a particularly hot day.

Further information can be found on this blog post discussing the benefits of drinking water 

One habit that worked for me while I was at university was bringing a water bottle wherever I went, including lectures, seminars and the library, filling it up throughout the day whenever I got the chance. Any water bottle can fill this function, so this is an effortless habit of starting and then carrying on doing.

3: Looking After Your Mental Health

One of the most underestimated aspects of keeping healthy while at university is maintaining good mental health, as it is only usually talked about when things are deteriorating, rather than as something to be looked after on a consistent basis.

The reason why it is so important to have a good state of mental health while at university is that it is extremely difficult to focus on either work or time put aside for fun while you are constantly worrying about other things, whether those worries are justified or not. 

One way of dealing with this problem is keeping in close contact with friends and family, and talking to them about any problems you may be having. Both have different benefits as while your family members may not be able to help you with university work, they can still advise you about non-academic matters.

On the other hand, while you may be hesitant to speak to friends about your feelings, they will be more than willing to help you with problems related to the course you are taking. 

Read more:

3: Exercise Regularly 

Another way of improving one’s mental health that is also important in its own right for good physical health is regular exercise. The reason it is so important, other than to both strengthen muscles and to lose weight, is that it can reduce the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes, among other health benefits. 

In terms of mental health, a regular exercise routine can reduce the chances of depression, which, as previously discussed, can have a positive influence on your life at university outside of keeping physically fit. A more complete list can be found on the NHS page on the benefits of exercise

How you exercise is entirely up to you, although while you are at university, it is a great idea to join a society that includes doing exercises, such as swimming or cycling.

Although if you prefer to exercise on your own as opposed to doing so as part of a group, it is still easy to do, with suggestions being to take up jogging in the local area, and going to the gym, either at your university or outside of it. More suggestions can be found on this blog post that talks about exercise that you can do outside the gym. 

Lucy Wyndham-Read

4: Get Enough Sleep

The last thing that is crucial for keeping healthy while at university is a proper sleep pattern, as it carries all the benefits of earlier tips, such as higher concentration levels, improved memory and a better mood.

It is recommended that you try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night as an optimal length although this is not always possible. It is possible that deadlines may force you to stay up later than normal so that all your work can be completed on time. It is fine to do this, although this should be an exception and not the norm if you want to be well-rested for the next day and beyond. 

One tip is to put away your electronic devices around an hour before you go to bed, as it can make it harder to fall asleep, resulting in you being more tired than you need to be the next day.

It is also useful to try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, as this can help you feel more lively the next morning. Although this blog post focuses on sleep while working after university, the tips it provides are still applicable while you are studying.

5: Seek help if you are feeling unwell

If you begin to feel unwell during your time at university, do not suffer in silence.

There are lots of resources available to you via your university. So whether you’ve come down with the Freshers’ Flu or are feeling a bit blue, get the help you need.

6: Reduce your stress levels

Whether you are in your first, second or final year of university, studying can be stressful, particularly during the run up to your exams or coursework deadlines.

There are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels. The tips listed above will help. In addition to these tips:

Overall, you can keep healthy at university by maintaining a healthy diet, regularly drinking water as well as keeping your mental health in good order by both exercising and sleeping properly. For more tips like these and more, check out both this video on staying healthy at university, and the Graduate Coach website. 

Written by Sam Sheridan
Featured photo by William Choquette from Pexels

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