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Staying healthy at university

Staying healthy at universityWhether it's all-night essays or drunken trips to A&E, university can be a health disaster. Keep feeling good with our uni health guide.

Healthy eating

Contrary to popular belief, being a student doesn’t transform your nutritional needs and let you live on baked beans and pizza. The basics are still the same: plenty of fresh fruit and veg, not too much fat and sugar.

But sometimes student life – and student budgets – can make this a struggle. Try these tips to help fill your nosebag:

  • Check out the local markets: You can often get fruit and veg much cheaper than at supermarkets
  • Think big: A giant pot of chilli, soup or stew is as quick to make as a small one and often cheaper per portion. Share with friends, or freeze portions so you can enjoy home cooking with the speed of a ready meal.
  • Fight temptation: Don’t shop while hungry, and have a filling meal before a night out to battle the call of the kebab shop.

For recipes that are good for you and your wallet, try these sites:


Whether it’s a morning run or a uni sports team, regular exercise is vital. And it’s not just for those who want to keep trim: staying active can help to keep you mentally sharp, improve your sleep and lots more.

  • Buddy up: Whether it’s a football team, a tennis partner or just someone to go swimming with, you’re less likely to pick armchair sports over real ones if there’s someone there to badger you.
  • Get a routine: it’s getting started that takes the effort. Get used to going at the same time and before long you’ll be hitting the gym without thinking.
  • Ditch the bus: Walking or cycling to lectures might not involve lycra tops and the Rocky theme tune, but it’s still exercise.

Mental and emotional health

Going to uni is a big change, and it can be difficult. Here are some key ways to keep your head above the water:

  • Plan your life: Academic problems and an empty bank account are a fast-track to stress, so build a budget, make a timetable and enjoy how organised you are.
  • Get some sleep: Sleeping well is vital to feeling good. Ideally, you should go to bed and get up at the same time every day – and that doesn’t mean staying up until 4am before every 9am lecture!
  • Accept help: People are often slow to seek help if they are struggling mentally or emotionally. You may feel nervous, embarrassed or like you should be able to sort the problem out yourself, or you may simply not know where to go for help. Most universities have free, confidential counselling services you can talk to, but you can also go to your GP for help with your mental health. Mental health problems are very common and these services exist to help you, so you don't need to worry about making use of them - but if you are nervous, you could ask a friend to go with you.
  • Look after yourself: Eating well and getting some exercise will help your emotional well-being. This can be difficult when you are experiencing dproblems with your mental health, but remembering to look after yourself an make a big difference

Remember, if things are getting tough, there’s always someone you can talk to, whether it’s friends, a student union rep, a tutor or a confidential phoneline like Nightline.

Sexual health

There are things less sexy than gonorrhoea – but not many. A few simple steps can help to keep everything in working order.

  • Use protection: This is the big one. You’ve seen the adverts, you’ve heard it before, and that’s because it’s vital. Most student unions provide free condoms, so use them.
  • Get tested: STIs don’t always show symptoms, especially in men. Some, such as Chlamydia, can be tested using a home test kit.
  • Take control: there can be a lot of pressure around sex, whether from individuals or through peer pressure. Remember: it’s your body, and you decide what you do with it.

Students’ unions can be a great source of advice and support, and there’s plenty of confidential help available from the NHS.

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