College can be difficult, especially when you’re a freshman. Between going to class, studying, working and doing various other activities, engaging in a healthy lifestyle is often at the bottom of a student’s to-do list. However, healthy living is a crucial part of maintaining both your mental health and physical health in college. Here are some tips for healthy living on campus:
1. Fuel your body
What students decide to eat while being in college impacts them in various ways. According to American Dining Creations, students often experience weight gain, depression, disrupted sleep, poor concentration and declined academic performance due to a poor diet.
Ryan Anderson (he/they), the assistant director of Health and Wellness Promotion, comments on what he has seen throughout his career at IUPUI regarding student eating habits.
“Sometimes students don't eat, or they will wait for very specific times,” Anderson said. “And they'll eat like, once. And it's like, okay, how can we better plan? Can we have a little food journal? Can we make sure we're packing snacks? Can we get some stuff from the pantry and have that in our bag?”
For those who experience food insecurity, Paw’s Pantry is a resource available to IUPUI students, faculty and staff. Paw’s Pantry is a free option where, regardless of economic status and personal background, various food items and hygiene products are available. The pantry is located on the first floor of the Campus Center, and Anderson strongly urges students to utilize this resource if they need it.
“Hundreds of students use it every single week, and what I always tell people is, ‘if you've ever thought you ever needed it, go ahead and use it,’” Anderson said. “I know some folks feel a little bit of guilt and shame because, ‘people could use it more than I can,’ and that might be the case, but you could still benefit from using it.”
Jags EatWELL Challenge is an upcoming nutrition challenge that runs from October 18 through November 15 where students are encouraged to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Students are able to register online. Those who participate in this online challenge are able to win prizes, such as an IUPUI bento-style lunch box, and can interact with other participants through the IUPUI Health and Wellness Promotion’s Instagram page.
Health and Wellness Promotion has other resources beyond those related to healthy eating habits and food insecurity. One other resource includes substance use programs, which are highlighted during their Sober October event. Anderson commented on substance abuse recovery rates at IUPUI.
“We have about twice the national average of students in recovery at IUPUI compared to most national institutions,” Anderson said. “So it's about 4.5% to 5%, depending on the year of students who are in recovery at IUPUI.”
Students who take an online pledge to be sober for all of October are able to win a 16-ounce IUPUI cup and able to access virtual resources. This online challenge helps encourage students to make personal goals and focus on what matters and can act as a first step towards sobriety for those who struggle with substance use.
2. Get active
Access to recreational services are included as part of living on campus, which includes access to campus fitness centers, the natatorium and fitness classes. Both the campus center gym and NIFS offer fitness classes throughout the week, including cycling, yoga, zumba and more.
For those who live off campus, using these facilities costs $50 per semester. However, there is an option provided through the Health and Wellness Promotion where the fee can be waived.
“If you do four coaching sessions with us, we'll pay for your gym membership for a semester,” Anderson said, “That's something we have grant funding for right now, and so much comes with your membership, including NIFS.”
There are also plenty of walking and biking trails across campus. The Central White River Trail runs throughout campus grounds. For those who enjoy biking, IUPUI has been named a “Bicycle Friendly University” and has been deemed a safe and convenient place to bike. Bike permits are available for free through Parking and Transportation Services, which allow access to a bike storage room in Tower Garage.
3. Utilize campus health services
IUPUI offers a variety of health services both on campus and virtually. One resource students have access to is free health and wellness coaching. This service is offered through the Health and Wellness Promotion. Coaching is done by certified health coaches, and it includes coaching for emotional and physical well-being, time management, social wellness, stress reduction and financial wellness.
“It’s a free and unlimited service that can be done virtually or in person,” Anderson said. “We also provide tobacco cessation recovery coaching.”
On campus, there is a student health clinic at Coleman Hall. This clinic offers many services, such as immunizations, injury care, physical exams and infectious disease treatment. All immunizations given on campus are free, whether you are a full-time or part-time student.
In support of regular health testing/screenings, Health and Wellness Promotion has begun hosting a monthly event called the, “Know Your Status Testing Event,” which occurs on the first Thursday of every month in the Campus Center Atrium between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. This event is in collaboration with multiple community partners, such as the Bell Flower Clinic and the Marion County Public Health Department. This event focuses on offering services such as STI testing, naloxone training and wellness screenings.
IUPUI offers a couple of different options for mental health resources. Recently, the university partnered with Timely Care, which offers free, 24/7 access to mental health resources for students. Timely Care can be accessed by clicking on the Timely Care icon on the left side of your Canvas page, or by going to their website. This platform offers 24/7 crisis messaging, counseling appointments, and health coaching services.
IUPUI also offers mental health services through Counseling and Psychological Services. CAPS has many services, including individual therapy, group therapy and psychological testing. Some of the services are available for free, while others have fees that correspond with the type and amount of treatment. Anderson encourages students to reach out and utilize health and wellness resources here on campus.
“All of your health and wellness resources can be found at wellness.iupui.edu. There are close to 70 different resources listed that are on campus or just off campus or online. You got this, and if you need help, that's why we're here,” Anderson said.
Kennedy McCormack (she/her) is a full-time IUPUI student who is majoring in Health Services Management. Kennedy is a first-year writer for the Campus Citizen.