Freshman 15: What it is and how to avoid it
The "Freshman 15" is a term that is popular among the college crowd to describe the amount of weight that is typically gained by students during their freshman year of college. The claim is popular though not fully substantiated and claims that the average freshman gains fifteen pounds during their first year of school. It is also noted that girls seem to be more vulnerable to the weight gain. The Freshman 15, as it's called, used to be known as the "Freshman 10", but typical weight gains over recent years have cited 15 pounds as the average weight gain.
Freshman 15 Causes
The new living environment students face is the main cause of the Freshman 15. Being crammed into tiny dorm rooms with no kitchen available can be limiting to students and often leads to dorm room snacks or other readily available food items that are often deemed unhealthy.
There are many other causes for the freshman fifteen weight gain, including:
- An increase in alcohol intake (and the beer munchies that come along with it).
- The added consumption of cafeteria style and fast food.
- The intake of pizza and deep fried foods.
- The change in structure and environment.
- Eating late.
- Erratic eating and sleeping schedules.
More than 70% of college students gain a significant amount of weight from the time they start college and until the end of sophomore year. Studies conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that this is a common occurrence among college students, so much so that many people believe it to be an almost guaranteed phenomenon.
Students need to find a happy medium between studying, exercise, entertainment, and a balanced sleep schedule to maintain optimum performance. Be sure to allot some extra money in your tight budget for athletics and other active recreational activities. Buy a gym membership, sign up for a pilates or yoga class, rock-climbing, or other activities of interest. Consider roller blading or biking to and from classes. You'll get there quicker and burn more calories. The typical dorm room is too small to hold any significant exercise equipment, so on a smaller level consider dumbbells, exercise balls, jump ropes, and so on. All the other major exercise equipment can be found at your college fitness center.
How to Avoid the Freshman 15
Though it may be hard and sometimes impossible to avoid any weight gain, here's what you can do to help avoid gaining the extra weight:
- Try and steer away from the typical college diet such as pizza and fast food.
- Join a Intramural Sports squad.
- Take advantage of the school's fitness center which has tons of state of the art equipment to keep you fit.
- Eat more salads and healthy green foods.
- Stay on top of health basics: drink eight glasses of water, get proper sleep, ensure you are getting your required vitamins and minerals, etc.