Living a healthy lifestyle By: Dan Tobin

Healthy Lifestyle at College

For most students, college marks a major transition from life in the comfort of their home to life living on their own. One of the biggest changes is nutrition! Students no longer have their parents to rely on when it comes to nutrition. They have to eat on their own, build healthy habits, find time and ways for physical fitness, and make sure they are treating their bodies properly. This chapter dives in on how to live a healthy lifestyle while attending college.

Chapter Sections:

  1. Eating Healthy
  2. Physical Activity
  3. Sleep
  4. Setting Goals


  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Aerobic Fitness
  • Muscle-Strengthening Fitness
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • S.M.A.R.T.

Eating Healthy


There are a number of nutrients the body needs in order to function properly. These nutrients include: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Each of these nutrients have specific effects on the body and can be found in all types of food. Nutrients can also be known as 'fuel' for the body, which is why they should be a part of every days diet. Campus dining halls offer many different types of foods, where all key nutrients can be found for a healthy diet.

Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins

Carbohydrates are nutrients that give the body quick energy. The two types of carbohydrates are complex, which includes starches and fiber, and simple, which includes sugars, like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Complex carbohydrates are essential to a daily diet and should be about 50% of an overall diet. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates include pasta, vegetables, wheat, grains, and fruit. Simple carbohydrates do not add much to a healthy diet and can contain a lot of calories, which may cause weight gain. Candy, soft drinks, and cookies are examples of foods high in simple carbohydrates. (ETR Associates) In the SJU dining hall, a meal that contains a good amount of carbohydrates would be whole grain pasta, with red sauce and broccoli on top.

Give an example of a meal that contains complex carbohydrates and would contribute to a healthy diet.

Fats are nutrients that give the body stored energy. Fats can help for healthy skin and hair, normal growth and nerve function, the production of hormones, and allow the body to absorb certain vitamins. Fats are necessary to the body in order to insulate against cold, provide energy for muscles, provide a layer of protection between skin and muscles, and protect internal organs. Foods that are high in fats include meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, and chocolate. Many foods that are low in fats can become high in fats when cooked in oil, like french fries. Eating too much fat can result in health problems such as obesity or diabetes. A daily caloric diet should contain 25% from fats. (ETR Associates) In the SJU dining hall, a meal that contains a healthy amount of fats would be a piece of grilled fish with a small side dish of french fries.

As a group, discuss other foods that may become high in fats once cooked in oil.

Proteins are nutrients made up of amino acids, which the body uses to make muscles, bones, and skin. The body requires 20 amino acids, 11 of which are naturally produced in the body. The other nine amino acids are called essential amino acids, because they must be apart of any diet. Foods high in protein include meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and dried beans. Only 10-15% of your daily caloric intake should come from proteins, although Americans are known for eating more protein than necessary. (ETR Associates) In the SJU dining hall, a meal that contains a healthy amount of protein would be an egg omelette with ham and spinach inside.

Name a quick snack that contains protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are nutrients that help regulate body processes. These body processes include digestion, growth, metabolism, hormone development, wound healing, and nerve function. Vitamins can be found in all food groups, but common sources include fruits and vegetables. Vitamins are broken down into four letters: A, B, C, D. Vitamin A and B can be found in leafy vegetables, Vitamin C can be found in lemons and limes, and Vitamin D can be gained through contact with sunlight. (ETR Associates) In the SJU dinning hall, a meal that contains a healthy amount of vitamins would be a salad with spinach leafs and lite dressing, and an orange as a side.

What food could you use as a side dish to a meal in order to get Vitamins A and B?

Minerals help the body grow and metabolize properly. Common minerals include calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, iodine, and zinc, all of which can usually be found on food labels. All foods contain certain minerals that vary based on the type of food. A healthy diet includes a variety of minerals through different sources of food. Not getting enough minerals can affect different body systems like the skeletal or respiratory. (ETR Associates) Any meal eaten in the SJU dining hall will include a number of different minerals.

Where can you find what minerals are in a packaged food?

Essential Questions

  1. What is the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates?
  2. What types of foods contain simple carbohydrates?
  3. What do fats do for the body?
  4. Eating too many fats can result in which types of problems?
  5. How many amino acids does the body require?
  6. Do Americans eat more or less than the suggested amount of protein?
  7. What types of body processes do vitamins help with?
  8. How can Vitamin D be attained?
  9. Name three types of minerals.
  10. A lack of minerals can affect which body systems?

Physical Activity

Physical activity on a regular basis is important and can create long term health benefits in a number of different ways. This may include increasing your chance of living longer, decreasing chances of depression, sleeping well at night, having stronger muscles and bones, and staying at a healthy weight. Lack of physical activity can cause issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or stroke. The two main types of physical fitness are aerobic activities and muscle-strengthening activities. (USDA) College campuses are a great location to find and participate in a number of different physical fitness activities.

Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness, also known as cardio, is anything that increases heart and breathing rate. Aerobic fitness is broken into two categories: moderate intensity aerobic activity and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Moderate activities increase heart rate and cause sweating, commonly characterized by being able to talk while doing the activity. Vigorous activities require much more effort than moderate activities and cause increased breathing, heart rate and sweating. Adults, ages 18-64, should be getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week, or a combination of the two (1 minute of vigorous activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate). (CDC)

Examples of Moderate Intensity Aerobic Activity

  • Water Aerobics
  • Pushing a Lawn Mower
  • Speed Walking
  • Riding a Bike on Level Ground
  • Playing Doubles Tennis

As a group, discuss other examples moderate intensity aerobic activity.

Examples of Vigorous Intensity Aerobic Activity

  • Jogging or Running
  • Swimming Laps
  • Playing Soccer
  • Playing Singles Tennis
  • Playing Basketball

Give an example of a vigorous intensity aerobic activity.

Muscle-Strengthening Fitness

Muscle-strengthening fitness is any activity that makes your muscles stronger. These types of activities should work all major muscles groups in the body. These muscle groups include legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Muscle-strengthening becomes beneficial when it is hard to complete a repetition without help. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done twice a week, separate from aerobic activities. These types of activities can be done via equipment or your own body. (CDC)

Examples of Muscle-Strengthening Fitness Activity

  • Weight-Lifting
  • Working with Resistance Bands
  • Push-Ups and Curl-Ups
  • Heavy Gardening
  • Yoga

Give an example of a muscle-strengthening fitness activity.

New to muscle-strengthening fitness? Check out this video!


Physical fitness can be done anywhere! Whether it is on a bedroom floor or in a swimming pool, the options are endless. SJU has a number of great facilities to get some physical fitness done. SJU also offers sports and activities at the recreational, club, and varsity levels, where you can meet new people and find all types of physical fitness. Check out the link below to see what SJU has to offer!

Essential Questions

  1. What are two ways physical fitness can create long term benefits?
  2. What can a lack of physical fitness cause?
  3. What are the two main types of physical fitness?
  4. What is aerobic fitness also known as?
  5. How many minutes per week should adults be doing vigorous intensity aerobic activity?
  6. What are two muscle groups muscle-strengthening fitness should involve?
  7. How many times per week should muscle-strengthening activities be done?
  8. Name five specific locations where physical activity can be done.


Sleep is an integral part of overall health and well being. It helps with healthy brain function, emotional well-being, physical health, and daytime performance and safety (NIH). Most humans spend about one-third of their life asleep. Many people struggle to sleep the necessary amount per night due to varies factors. These factors may include voluntary behavior, work or study commitments, environment and sleeping habits, anxiety, and insomnia. (News Medical Life Sciences) There are a specific amount of hours people should be getting per day, based on their age.

Main Factors of Sleep Deprivation

Voluntary behavior is making the decision to stay awake instead of going to sleep. Many people choose to stay awake, not knowing the amount of sleep their body really needs. They may stay awake longer to socialize or enjoy hobbies, like going to a night club or playing video games. The use of stimulants can also cause one to stay awake longer, like drinking alcohol or caffeine before going to bed. (News Medical Life Sciences) College students should be aware of these factors because they are extremely relevant, especially when staying in dorms.

As a group, discuss a time you have voluntarily stayed awake late at night.

Work and study commitments can negatively affect sleep in a number of different ways. Some work commitments require hours that may disrupt normal sleep cycles or cause sleep deprecation. For example, someone whose job requires lots of traveling may not get enough sleep because they can not fall asleep on airplanes. Study commitments can affect students by having them wake up early or stay up late studying or doing homework. (News Medical Life Sciences) College students should be aware of the these factors because workloads may cause them to stay up late completing and still have to wake up early the next morning.

Give an example of a job that may cause sleep deprivation or irregular sleep cycle.

The environment one sleeps in can greatly affect the amount of sleep attained. Environmental factors that may affect sleep include temperature, loud neighbors, or sleeping with a partner who snores. These may cause one to struggle to fall asleep or continuously wake during the night. (News Medical Life Sciences) College students should take such factors into account because they may be living in close vicinity with other students, who may be loud and noisy.

Give an example of an environmental factor that may cause one to wake in the middle of the night.

How Much Sleep is Enough?

Based on a two-year study done by the National Sleep Foundation, the suggested amount of sleep varies based on age. Younger children require much more sleep than adults do. It suggested that young adults and adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night (National Sleep Foundation). Refer to the chart below for suggested sleep amounts.

Are you getting the amounts of sleep your body requires?

Essential Question

  1. Why is sleep beneficial?
  2. How much of ones life is spent sleeping?
  3. Give an example of a voluntary behavior that affects sleep.
  4. Give an example of a job that may cause sleep deprivation?
  5. What is an environmental factor that may cause waking during sleep?
  6. Give an example of a situation in college that may cause sleep deprivation.
  7. Can anxiety cause sleep deprivation?
  8. What is the suggested hours of sleep for a 21 year old?

Goal Setting

Goal setting is an important part of living a healthy and successful lifestyle. Goals specific to eating, exercising, and sleeping can help improve your physical health, as well as mental health. Goals can be easy to set, but hard to follow through with and achieve. To set goals, one should keep them few in number, make them S.M.A.R.T. (acronym explained below), write them down, review them frequently, and share them selectively (Hyatt).

Few in Number and SMART

Studies have shown that it is difficult to focus on more than 5-7 items at one time. This means there should only be a few, specific goals set at one time. This will help one hone in on these goals and not get sidetracked. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Specific, goals should identify exactly what needs to be accomplished. Measurable, quantify goals so they can either be achieved or failed. Actionable, goals should start with an action verb. Realistic, goals should push one, but not be unreachable. Time-bound, all goals should have a finish date to achieve them. (Hyatt) Losing track of goals can easily happen because of other factors like school work or social life.

Write down a goal and determine whether or not it hits all aspects of SMART.

Write Them Down, Review Them Frequently, Share Them Selectively

Each and every goal should be written down, whether it may be on your phone or in your journal. When something is written down, it clearly states an intention and sets things into motion. Reviewing goals constantly is what turns them into action. If they are not reviewed constantly they may be forgotten or wither away. When reviewing goals, ask: what is the next step towards achieving this goal? Goals should not be shared with everyone, they should be shared with people who will help work towards achieving them. (Hyatt)

Essential Questions

  1. About how many goals should be worked on at once?
  2. What does the acronym S.M.A.R.T. stand for?
  3. Create a goal using each letter of S.M.A.R.T.
  4. Where is the best place for you to write down a goal?
  5. Why is writing down a goal important?
  6. Why should goals be reviewed constantly?
  7. Why should goals not be shared with everyone?
  8. Who would you share you goals with?

As a group, discuss the effectiveness of these strategies towards goal setting.

Want to hear a voice behind the suggestion? Listen to the podcast below!


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