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Staying healthy is challenging for many college students. You want to eat properly and get enough exercise, but how do you find the time? Here are four healthy habits that are speedy and sure to help you stave off getting sick.

Drink Enough Water

This is the easiest and cheapest health tip that we can give you. Your body is made up of about 60% water and it uses water to regulate its temperature, keep your skin healthy, and eliminate waste (yay for sweating and peeing, which are your body’s awesome built-in detox mechanisms). When you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to contract a urinary tract infection or become constipated. Drink water with each meal, and carry a water bottle with you to class.

To save money, ditch the plastic water bottle and get yourself a reusable one. If your tap water isn’t the greatest, invest in a filter to improve the water quality. You can flavor your water with lemon slices or other fruits to keep things interesting. Juice is another option, but keep in mind that many juices are loaded with sugar and calories. Doctors recommend that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. You don’t have to go that far, just try to up your intake and be mindful that your body needs water more than just when you feel thirsty.

Stretch Away Your Stress

When you’re in college, stress is pretty much a given. Unfortunately, chronic stress can cause headaches, irritability, insomnia, high blood pressure, and even shortness of breath and full-blown panic attacks. Yoga is excellent for reducing stress and for increasing your energy levels. Check to see if your school offers yoga classes; many colleges now offer them for free or for an affordable price. Also, there are many free online routines that you can follow at home.

If yoga isn’t your thing, other options include tai-chi or walking. Try one of these exercises for 15 minutes once or twice a day and see if you notice a difference. We bet that you will and that it will be for the better.

Keep Those Germs Away

Okay, we won’t blame you if you’re rolling your eyes right now. Of course you already know to practice basic hygiene, the importance of washing your hands, and that it’s best to avoid your sneezing roommate. But you might be surprised to learn where germs like to hide.
NSF International tested the homes of off-campus college students for common germs such as molds and bacteria. The three most germ-infested items were the dish sponge, the shower drain, and the kitchen sink drain. The grossest part? All three items had E. coli. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Other germy items included the coffee pot, the shower head, and the kitchen faucet handle. Unless getting sick is your idea of a fun time, make sure to clean these areas regularly. There are lots of green cleaners now that will kill bacteria while being environmentally friendly.

Healthy People Eat Breakfast

When you’re always on the go and pressed for time, good eating habits can fall by the wayside. However, there’s no excuse for skipping breakfast. No matter how busy you are, you need to eat something when you wake up. Skipping breakfast increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and it usually makes you gain weight because you find yourself hungry soon after and eating all the wrong things to compensate. Your memory and attention can also suffer, which isn’t what you want for your morning class.

As long as you’re not drinking alcohol or scarfing down junk food, practically anything will do for breakfast. If waking up early isn’t an option, stash a banana or a muffin in your bag the night before so you can eat on the go. Have time for something hot or a trip to the dining hall? Go for something like eggs and turkey sausage — plenty of good fats and lean protein there. If you’re in a hurry, make it a low-fat yogurt for a shot of protein.

Remember that the last thing you want is to get sick and be unable to attend classes or to complete assignments. Try following the tips above in order to help stay healthy throughout the semester. They are preventative steps and good habits that will pay off throughout the term and beyond.

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