Your college years are notoriously your most unhealthy years.
Binge drinking, sleep deprivation, late night greasy foods, hours sitting to study…they all add up.
When I left for college, I knew I wanted to stay healthy. And my dedication to fitness was something I recommitted to at the end of every summer as I headed back to school.
The truth is: the choices you make in college will set the tone for years to come.
While you may be young and “bounce back” quicker, these first years on your own are when your habits set in.
It’s a time to examine your values and set your priorities. And your health should be at the top of your list!
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting in a solid workout and then cooking a healthy dinner all on your own. No one told you to do it – you just did it because it was good for you, and it made you feel your best. Look at you, you responsible adult!
Health and fitness in college will look different every year. Maybe freshman year you have a meal plan and by senior year you cook all your meals off campus. Or maybe one year you live right by the campus gym and the next you’re a 20 minute walk from it.
The good news is there are things you can do (and get!) to make healthy, fit living easy for each year of college.
Below I’ve compiled a healthy college packing list so you can own this next year. From freshman to senior year, these things will help keep you fit and motivated every single day!
Let’s do this!
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Healthy College Packing List: Kitchen
Not only are abs made in the kitchen, health is too.
While you may not be entirely in charge of cooking your own food yet, chances are you will be at some point during college.
So whether you have a full kitchen, kitchenette, or just a microwave, here are some things to consider getting:
This cookbook is the perfect starter-outer cookbook! It has simple, easy-to-make, healthy recipes plus tons of tips geared towards college students. Just click the link to “View Inside” and you’ll see what I mean. This is the ultimate college cookbook.
Make cooking and baking a cinch with this kitchen conversions chart!
Getting tired of cereal for breakfast? Only have a microwave?
Ramp up the protein with this microwave egg maker!
This electric cooker can cook rice, heat soup, and even boil eggs. It has some of the best reviews of electric cookers on Amazon and is perfect for a dorm room.
Healthy College Packing List: Exercise Equipment
You may be wondering why exercise equipment is on here. Shouldn’t you just use the on-campus gym, even if you live off-campus?
Well you can. But you won’t.
Trust me, as someone who was very committed to fitness in college, getting over to the gym just won’t be possible sometimes.
Either you have too much work, it’s pouring cats and dogs, it’s snowing cats and dogs, or you just aren’t up for the 20 minute round-trip walk.
It’s expected and it’s understandable.
So to combat gym commute fatigue, you just need a few small pieces of equipment and you’ll be able to fit in a good workout any time of day.
Here’s my list of essentials to pack:
Whether you want to do a full body workout, stretch, or do yoga, this is a must!
It’s also great to bring your own yoga mat to exercise classes or the gym so you don’t have to use their sweat-soaked ones.
Ramp up even the simplest, smallest movements with resistance bands. Lightweight and thin, they’ll be super easy to store between uses too.
Dumbbells are my No. 1 essential fitness item. You can do so many different exercises with them! While a little bulkier than a resistance band, they’re still small enough to be conveniently hidden in the bottom of your closet or under your bed between uses.
My recommendation: start with just one set of dumbbells. A 10 lb set is often a good starting place because you can use it for upper and lower body exercises. But if you think you’ll need more or less weight, do what works for you! Everyone’s different!
RELATED POST: Weight Training for Beginners – for simple, basic, weight training movements
These are great when you don’t have a lot of time and don’t want to use any more brain power to think up a workout. Simply set a timer for your workout and keep rolling the dice until the timer’s up!
Another great way to fit in some quick exercise is by going on a run. Having run on teams in high school, this was my go-to.
Side note: walking is also a great form of exercise!
But you don’t realize the little things you’ll need until you don’t have them. Not all running pants come with pockets, and those that do might not be big enough. For example, I had to keep both a set of keys and my college ID card on me so I could get back into my dorm.
Wrist wallets are the perfect solution!
This may sound over-the-top – and I wish it was – but nowadays you have to make sure you’re safe when exercising outdoors.
Say you’re on a run and accidentally take a turn into a neighborhood that makes you a bit nervous. Put your mind (and your parents’ minds!) at ease by arming up with this pepper spray wrist band.
Healthy College Packing List: Decor
We all love decorating the walls of our dorm rooms. You get to be creative and satisfy your inner interior decorator.
But why not make your decor super fitspirational too?
Imagine this: It’s 8pm. You just finished a horrendously long lab report (dude, by only 8pm?? You’re already killin’ it), and you planned to go work out now…but really don’t want to. You look up, expecting to stare at a blank wall, but are instead met by a framed print that says:
So you peel yourself off the standard wooden dorm chair your legs have become molded too and change for the gym. Because you are stronger than your excuses – and your biceps are now gonna be too!
Decor is really important! And here are a few more of my favorite motivational pieces:
Healthy College Packing List: Other
Here’s a list of a few other items to consider including on your healthy college packing list:
For a boost of motivation at the gym.
For when you’re struggling to get work done.
‘Cause, you know. (Take the stress – and the smell – out of bathroom time.)
Because you’re a responsible adult now.
Best of luck as you head off to school! Now these won’t just be the best years of your life, but the fittest too!
Are you heading off to college soon? What year are you going into? Leave a comment below!