Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., President of Spelman College announced recently that the Atlanta based women’s college was expanding their athletics program, which had served comparatively few, into a fitness program serving the entire student body. Health surveys showed students experienced obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes at alarming rates. In fact, almost half the student body of 2,100 is struggling with these health concerns. Spelman College is on to a great idea that is worthy of attention from all college students.  When it comes to college, making fitness a priority is just as important as studying.

 Why Fitness for College Students

All students should be concerned with fitness not just because they want to avoid the dreaded freshman 15 but also because they want to lay the groundwork for long term positive health outcomes. The rates for obesity and diabetes are higher today in the United States than they have ever been before. To make matters worse it isn’t just older adults that are managing these chronic health problems but increasingly younger people, too. The medical community is sounding the alarm about how these health problems will impact individuals and communities as children with these concerns become adults.

 There are shorter term benefits of fitness, too. Exercise can help learning, concentration and retention. The connection between body and mind has long been proven. College students can use this connection to boost academic performance and reduce stress with exercise. Of course it doesn’t hurt to look and feel your best on the dating scene.

 How Busy College Students Can Make Time for Fitness

Fitting in fitness can be really easy for students because they already have tons of experience with juggling activities. College students have done the hard work of preparing for college, which in most cases requires some ability to set goals and priorities as well as manage time. That is half the battle.

  • Make up your mind to work out your body

 Next, make a plan that supports your goal. That is as easy as deciding when and how you will work out. Schedule fitness time just as you would schedule study time, look at your class times, assignment due dates and activities for openings you can use. What you are looking for are places to plug in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every other day. Be sure to write or type in your exercise sessions on the calendar to strengthen your commitment.

  • Make a schedule that shows where fitness realistically fits.

Finally, find ways to hold yourself accountable. Maybe that means signing up for a sport or the track team; or maybe you can get your roommate or a buddy to commit to exercising with you. When it comes to exercise four legs are often better than two because double the feet equals double the determination. You might also organize a game day (flag football or soccer anyone?)  or swim party. Be creative, it doesn’t matter how you move it only matters that you do – and do it regularly.