It always starts the same way: new school year, new health goals. Eating the cookies from TDR only on the weekend, going to every single Zumba class the gym offers and trading in your beloved Diet Cokes for water are just a few examples.
But now the first two weeks of classes have come and gone. You actually have homework (and getting through that should justify one cookie ... or two), 9 a.m. classes have never seemed so early and sleeping in is much more appealing than going to the gym.
Don’t beat yourself up. It takes time to develop a routine and find the best work-out time. In the meantime, here are four small things you can do without even breaking a sweat that will keep you healthy and happy.
Not too hard, right? According to Steve Wilson, a psychologist and laugh therapist, “The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.”
What could be easier than this? Grab your friends, settle into an episode of “Modern Family” and immediately feel better inside and out.
2. Go to bed half an earlier instead of wasting time on your computer.
And while you’re at it, learn to disconnect from technology every now and then. The benefits of sleep, especially for college students — a notoriously sleep deprived population — are endless. Better grades, better attitudes, better focus, better hair — you name it, sleep is an all-powerful elixir. Twitter will not magically disappear overnight and Facebook will still be there in the morning, but your first class will feel infinitely more painful on five hours of sleep versus eight.
3. Walk to Tenleytown instead of taking the shuttle (if it ever stops raining).
Right up there with sleep in the all powerful elixir category is Vitamin D. Best received through daily moderate levels of natural sunshine, getting enough Vitamin D is even easier than getting enough sleep. While you can find Vitamin D in foods such as fish and eggs, the sun is actually a more effective way to reap its benefits. Plus, you only need 10 minutes outside on a sunny day to prevent deficiencies. Vitamin D is also a great stress reducer, which explains why people are happier when it’s sunnier.
Even if you hate your science class and you didn’t sleep because of your annoying neighbors, smiling, whether you are actually happy or not, has statistically proven health benefits. Smiling automatically releases endorphins, natural painkillers and serotonin, a recipe for feeling good mentally and physically. And the effects aren’t just short term. According to studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, smiling can lower your blood pressure, your immune system and make you seem more attractive.
So instead of blaming on yourself for not getting to the gym as much as you wanted this week: Relax. Rest assured that all you need for major health benefits is a comfy bed, some good friends and a little sunshine.