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Five Health Mistakes College Students Make

Five Health Mistakes College Students Make

By Bridget Kulla

June 04, 2008

Don’t spend more time in the campus health clinic than in the classroom this school year. Avoid these common campus health mistakes.

1.Not washing your hands enough – With so many people living together, eating together, and studying together, germs spread quickly on college campuses. You can catch colds, the flu, sore throats and more by rubbing your nose or eyes with dirty hands.

Make it harder for germs to make you sick by keeping your hands clean. “The number one thing about keeping people well is encouraging hand washing,” says Mary Ann Stienbarger, director of health services at Earlham College. In situations where you might be especially vulnerable to germs, like computer labs or the gym, carry a small bottle of antibacterial lotion with you. It only takes a second, and it could save you a few days of feeling sick.

2. Sampling the entire cafeteria buffet – Your college cafeteria offerings have little resemblance to good home cooking, but filling your tray with the unlimited burgers and ice cream is not the smartest choice. Late-night pizzas and after-class take-out don’t help either. “Mom doesn’t fix pizza every day of the week and she doesn’t serve French fries every day. Students need to make that connection and eat balanced meals,” Stienbarger says. The “freshman 15” gets a lot of attention for students starting college, but eating smart is just as important of an issue for upperclassmen.

Aside from the negative health effects of being overweight, a poor diet can make you sick. Eating a ensures your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly. When your body works properly, you’re less likely to get sick and will have more energy. A healthy diet also fends off chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

3. Pulling all-nighters - The only way you’ll ever finish that research paper and study for your exam is to pull an all-nighter. Again. You’ll be doing yourself more harm than good if you skip sleep. Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of depression, makes you more likely to make errors in your work, impairs your concentration, and slows your reaction time. Sleep deprivation also weakens your immune system, causing you to be more vulnerable to illnesses.

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