Avoid the Freshman Fifteen with the Help of Tech

Going away to college or university for the first time is an exciting time for students, but it’s also a big adjustment. With the demands of course work and the change in diet, many students find it difficult to maintain healthy habits. This can result in weight gain and a general decline in physical fitness. While keeping an eye on diet and staying active seem like obvious ways to preventing weight gain, they’re often difficult to maintain. However, there are a few tools that can help.


Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers are phenomenal tools. They provide you with a variety of information about your activity level and how it affects your overall health and fitness. At the most basic level, you can expect them to track steps taken, calories burned, and stairs climbed. They will encourage you take a minimum of 10,000 steps per day but can also be used to track other activities, like cycling. Some even have heart rate monitors to ensure you’re hitting your target heart rates. Having this information available at all times, can serve to encourage students to stay active.


Not surprisingly, studies have shown that lack of sleep and poor quality sleep can lead to weight gain. This is another area where a good fitness tracker can help. Worn at night, many of these devices can track sleep patterns. They even tell you whether you’ve gotten a restful sleep based on how much you toss and turn. Again, this is valuable information that can help students monitor their progress and build healthier habits over time. With this information at their fingertips, they might even get to bed at a decent hour.


Fitness trackers come in a variety of flavours, from simple step counters to more advanced devices that monitor heart rate. While there are a wide variety of models, making purchasing decisions challenging, I recommend starting by looking at trusted brands like Fitbit.


Fitness Apps

Fitness trackers are fantastic tools for gathering information and tracking progress but students new to the college or university environment might need a little extra help to build healthy habits. That’s where mobile apps come in, and there are a number of them that offer practical tools for staying healthy. For example, an app like MyFitnessPal can help students track their calorie and water intake. The app can be used to set goals and track progress against them. It can also help you determine calorie targets based on current weight and goal weight.


There are also a number of apps that provide customizable workouts and plans. For example, the Nike+ Training app offers workouts designed by professional trainers, customizable training programs, and the ability to share your progress with friends. There are even role-play games that encourage fitness. For example, Zombies, Run! places the player in the role of Runner 5, who is sent on various missions in an attempt to save humanity from the zombie apocalypse.


Connected Scales


For a student, having a good fitness tracker and one or two fitness apps to rely on is a great start. For those really focused on staying fit, a connected scale can prove to be a useful tool. Connected scales pair with fitness trackers to track weight, BMI, and body fat percentage. Paired with the information collected by a fitness tracker, the information from a connected scale can help build a full fitness profile, which is useful in planning diet and exercise. If you decide to spring for a connected scale, I recommend purchasing one that pairs easily with your fitness tracker. For example, if you have a Fitbit tracker, check out the Fitbit Aria scale.

By Mike Agerbo

August 23, 2016