The freshmen fifteen is one of the first things all college entrants are warned against. Nevertheless, most can admit to have struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I am guilty of this myself. In fact, it wasn’t until this semester that I finally learned that it was possible to actually lead a healthy lifestyle while in college. And I did so because of my new best friend, the Fitbit.
Here are six things that I’ve learned from my Fitbit, and I know they can help you improve your college lifestyle, too.
1. Every step counts
Yes, even walking while brushing your teeth can actually make a difference. In high school, I played 3-5 hours of tennis a day,so I thought a 15 minute walk was worthless. However, the opposite is true — those little walks you take during your down time, like when you’re cleaning your room or cooking, make a difference. In fact, a 10 minute walk is equivalent to about 1000 steps, and this can burn anywhere from 50 to 75 calories, depending on your height and weight. Knowing this has motivated me to walk much more — whether it’s walking while I brush my teeth or going on a mini-walk when I have a short break, I can guarantee you that those additional steps will make a huge difference.
2. Vary your workouts
After quitting tennis, I used to think that a four-mile run five times a week was going to make me as fit as I wanted to be. While it did give me endurance, I found out that to be fit, I needed to change up my routines at the gym and work different muscles. The trick is to alter your heart rate from highs to lows because your body continues to burn calories as you bring your heart rate down. Additionally, this helps you work different muscles and improve your strength. I had always heard this, but I never paid attention to it until I got my Fitbit. By tracking my performance during every workout, I noticed that I burned more calories when my workouts consisted of constantly changing heart rates, rather than having a workout that maintained the same heart rate (i.e. running four miles at once).
Here I ran four miles, and my heart rate remained the same (note: the lower heart rate at the end comes from ab workouts). With a 42 minute workout, I burned 300 calories, with an average of 7 calories per minute.
However, during a workout where I did a mix of sprints and jogging that switched up my heart rate, I burned more calories in the same amount of time. I burned 359 calories, at an average of 8 calories per minute. Your workouts don’t have to be limited to the gym — even recreational outdoor exercise like results in high-caloric exhaustions. My favorites? Tennis and rollerblading.
3. Motivation may come from competition
Fitbit gives users the ability to connect with other Fitbit users and see how they are doing on their weekly step count. Even better, it allows friends to create competitions with each other to see who can get the most steps in a certain number of days. On days that I am in a competition, I find myself looking for ways to move more. And let me clarify: I do not lose.
4. Eat meals often
Most of us can attest to having indulged or binged on junk food at some point in time. If you opt to use the calorie counting option, Fitbit will tell you how much you should eat according to your height, weight, activity level, and weight goals. In fact, it will even tell you whether you have over or under-eaten, according to the time of day. That is, if it’s morning and you have consumed a high amount of calories, Fitbit will tell you that you are “over target,” even if you still have calories remaining for the rest of the day. This way, Fitbit emphasizes the importance of spreading your calorie intake throughout the day (instead of consuming a bunch of calories at once) to ensure maximum satisfaction.
5. Improve your heart rate
I thought that as a 19-year old who worked out often, there was no need to even look at the heart rate function. However, upon leading a more healthy life style, I have been able to lower my heart rate from the upper fifties to the lower fifties.
6. Sleep matters
Yeah, yeah, we never have time to sleep. But it’s important to make that time — when I don’t sleep enough, I find myself having worse workouts and eating more unhealthy foods. And I don’t want to even mention those eye bags. Clearly, my college sleeping patterns have a lot of room for improvement…