WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ– Freshman college students are making smarter, healthier food choices as a result of the magnifying glass of social media, encouraging users to be more aware of their bodies and choices. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are an inexpensive and convenient source of support from doctors as well as peers, according to the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, social media stars and fitness advocates, like Jen Selter, encourage followers to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
First-year college students are transitioning to an independent lifestyle, which ultimately means they have complete control of their lives and body. However, the one thing that remains constant with this change is social media. Social media is an integral part of communication for today’s college students. They have grown up in a world where connections are developed, maintained and expressed online, according to the American Educational Research Association. Increasingly, students use social media and social networking to stay connected to friends and family, meet new people on campus, and connect to faculty and staff.
“Social media allows me to keep my daily routine on a schedule. Every day when I wake up, I choose a 30-minute workout routine to accomplish, so I can remain energetic and feeling good about my body. I also make sure I choose healthy meals to eat throughout my day because I want to maintain my good eating habits,” said Penn State University freshman, Jacklyn Napolitano. It is important that students find time to make smart dietary choices, not only to uphold their body image, but for their health.
“It is a constant struggle to battle a full time school schedule with finding time to go to the gym”, said Wisconsin University freshman, Erica Rosenberg. “I find it really motivational to follow fitness icons on Instagram, because their workout tutorials really inspire me to be healthier.” Fitness and Health applications are time savers when managing a busy schedule, because they give easy recipes and show work out routines that are simple and can fit into anyone’s day.
Unfortunately, social eating and bad food choices led to overeating and weight gain for several college students. According to the Daily Texan Online article, “Social Eating Poses Serious Problems for College Students”, people use eating as a way to socialize and it can have serious effects on the way we view food and nutrition, leading to overeating, malnutrition and other health problems.
First-year college students often struggle to make affordable, healthy meal choices that fit within their budget. Fast foods are more affordable and usually take less time to prepare, which make them more appealing to budget conscious students despite their unhealthy qualities. “I gained over five pounds my freshman year of college because my friends always wanted to go out to dinner and we couldn’t afford any of the higher-quality restaurants,” said University of South Carolina Senior, Katie McKaughn.
Statistics show that approximately 92 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape, according to Huffington Post article, “Stop Blaming the Media for our Body Image Issues”. Now, college students are turning to social media public fitness figures for advice and dieting tips to stay healthy on a budget and remain fit.
“I knew when I started college I was going to have a struggle with maintaing my body. School work is very overwhelming and it is hard to add working out into an already busy schedule. However, I started looking at fitspo (fit inspiration) social media pages and they gave me great tips to on how to do a 20 minute workout whenever you have some down time. I still feel good and haven’t gained any weight since my freshman year,” said Monmouth University senior, Isabella Furmato.
Yes, it is hard to make a truly balanced schedule. College students are under a lot of pressure and the first-year students have to adapt to all of the life changes. But, you should never let your body go! Now that social media has become so prevalent, we have so many good healthy recipes to make and fitness exercises accessible to us, on the go.