Staying Healthy at University: Eating Well and Exercising on a Budget

Moving to university often brings the first proper taste of independence you’ve had in your life, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing…

Being in total control of what you eat and how you spend your day doesn’t always have a positive outcome and the “Fresher 5lbs” is more often than not a reality rather than a university myth.

Unless you were an avid gym goer before you started university, it’s unlikely you’ll become one whilst you’re studying. However, there’s a lot to be said for getting a few hours of exercise a week and swapping the chips for carrot sticks occasionally.

We know you’re not made of money, so here are our tips for eating well and exercising on a budget:

Join your university gym

Gyms can be expensive and when you’re on a student budget they might be a luxury you can’t afford, but check out your university gym before you rule it out as unaffordable.

Your university gym will offer preferential rates to students and many do pay as you go deals so you’re not tied into a contract with a gym you might only visit once.

The best things in life are free

If joining a gym is totally out of the question, either financially or you just don’t like them, then buy a decent pair of trainers and get outdoors.

Exercising in your local park is totally free and the ideal place for a jog. You can also look up exercises you can do without any equipment and build them into your workout.

Make it fun

If you’re not generally a keep fit fan then why not make it a more social occasion? Try taking an exercise class with your friends or even doing an exercise DVD with your housemates a few times a week.

Keep your food shop simple

Food shopping can be expensive at the best of times, and even more so when you’re trying to eat healthily and avoid the ready meals in the frozen section.

Stick with healthy, and affordable, forms of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Think lean meats, vegetables, pulses, and tinned beans. It’s always worth checking out the reduced section and the frozen aisle for things like chicken, vegetables, fruit, and fish which are often cheaper to buy frozen.

Ditch the expensive supplements

Some people swear by supplements, but unless you’re working out a lot (basically a professional athlete) you probably don’t need them.

If you’re eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of water then you shouldn’t need any supplements, although a good multivitamin wouldn’t do you any harm (or break the bank) if you’re concerned.

Batch cook and plan your meals

We usually find ourselves reaching for the takeaway menu when we’ve had a busy day and there’s no food in the house, but a little bit of planning can save you a lot of money (and calories) when it comes to takeaways.

Do a weekly meal plan before you go food shopping and stick to it. Make sure you’ve got food in the house for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a few healthy snacks.

Also take a bit of time in the week to batch cook some meals for the freezer so you’ve got something quick to eat when you’re tempted to order food in.