Growing up … into adulthood … is a pretty serious reality check. You go from attending a few classes each day to working 8 straight hours every day. You go from partying non-stop on the weekends to going to bed at 10 on a Friday night. You go from having a free gym membership and a fully charged metabolism to sitting at a desk for hours on end and struggling to burn as much as you eat. Life after college is a big transition, but it can also be one of the most exciting times of your life. Staying fit and active in your 20s can help you make the most out of your transition time while promoting a healthy mind and body.
1. Establish a routine. Having a healthy and productive daily routine is one of the best ways to stay fit. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night and wake up at roughly the same time every morning. Eat your meals around the same time every day and have scheduled snacks between meals to keep you from grazing too much or overeating after you’ve gone hours without food. Including scheduled workouts in your routine is as important as any other scheduled event on your work or personal calendar.
2. Pack a lunch and healthy snacks for work. If you work a full-time job, eating lunch out every day is not only unhealthy, but it’s expensive too. Pack fruits, veggies, dried fruit, nuts, healthy protein bars and 100-calorie packs of your favorite snacks. Also be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re at work. A water bottle with measurements printed on the side is a great way to see how much water you’re drinking per day.
3. Exercise regularly. Having access to a free gym when you were still in school was awesome, but now you probably don’t have that same perk. If you have access to a gym through work or your apartment complex, try to go a few times a week at the same time so you’ll start to form the habit. Look into gym discounts if you can. For instance, some YMCA branches offer income-based membership rates. If you don’t have access to a gym and don’t want to pay for a monthly membership, you can still work out. You can walk, run or bike outside. You can also spend $20 or so on workout DVDs, or stream good workouts of every type for free on YouTube. You can even squeeze in a short workout during your lunch break, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk.
4. Get health insurance and visit the doctor at least once a year. The gray area after graduation can be hard to navigate. If you’re no longer covered under your parents’ insurance and don’t have a job with full benefits, you can consider short term health insurance just so you don’t have to go for any period of time without coverage. You never know when an accident could happen and medical bills on top of student loans are an expensive debt to try to pay off. Once you have health insurance, visit a doctor at least once a year for your annual physical.
5. Everything in moderation. No one said life after college wouldn’t include parties, assorted shenanigans and fun weekends with friends. There’s nothing wrong with going to a big lunch with co-workers, boozy brunch on the weekends, partying with friends and eating whatever you want to – as long as you do it in moderation. Remember that what you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while. Enjoy your life, indulge in things you love and balance it out with a healthy diet and exercise the other 80 to 90 percent of the time.
Living a healthy lifestyle in your 20s sets a solid foundation for the rest of your adult years. The healthy patterns you establish now you’ll likely carry with your forever – and those healthy patterns will be great for body as you continue to age.