Small Habits for Big Results

March 21, 2022

Cavan Bonner

Studies show again and again that college students suffer from poor physical health, especially in areas related to diet and sleep. In the 2021 Purdue College of Engineering Steps to Leaps survey, around 60% of undergraduate students reported poor diet and sleep.

As college students, we often forget to prioritize these aspects of our lives. Diet, sleep, and exercise fall to the wayside as assignments, exams, extracurriculars, and social obligations dominate our busy lives. And while many of us recognize that this is an issue, we may feel that we don’t have the time or energy to address it. So this week, we are sharing a few small, concrete, doable life changes that can lead to major physical health results.

Gloria Liou

Drink more water. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s super important – after all, humans are 60% water, and researchers recommend that we drink 2.7-3.7 liters of water per day! Having a big (high-volume), reusable water bottle can help. It’s less likely you’ll run out of water or forget to refill, and it’s good for the environment too.

Make your food colorful. It can be challenging to adhere to a specific type of diet or only eat certain foods – instead, think about making your meals as rainbow as you can. Broccoli for green, beets for red, and oranges for, well, orange.

Monitor electronics use before bed. Try not to use electronics for an hour before you sleep. Or, use applications like f.lux on your computer and Night Shift on your phone to adjust the screen lighting to prepare for sleeping. Read a physical book, magazine, or newspaper instead of one on your phone.

Sneak in moments of exercise. Setting aside an hour each day to go to the gym isn’t always feasible. The notion that everyone should get 10,000 steps per day has recently been debunked by several studies, which find that for most people, 7,000-8,000 steps can reduce the risk of heart disease as much as the mythical 10,000. You are likely already getting in about 5,000 steps per day from walking to classes and doing chores, so intentionally adding a few more steps into your routine can be a manageable goal. You can always get creative and sneak in moments of exercise. Here are some ideas to get you started: Walk around your home while brushing your teeth. Do push-ups while waiting for the water to boil. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

These little things add up and can help you start feeling like your best self! Here’s to happy and healthy bodies and minds!

Cavan Bonner and Gloria Liou 

Cavan Bonner received his B.A. in Psychology from Kalamazoo College in 2021, and currently works as a research manager at the Well-Being and Measurement Lab with Dr. Louis Tay. Cavan is broadly interested in how personality — including traits, well-being, and attitudes — develops over the lifespan.

Gloria Liou received her B.A. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from Pomona College in 2018. Before joining the Well-Being and Measurement Lab as a research manager, she worked as a product manager at Google. Her current research interests include close relationships, well-being, and stress. In her spare time, Gloria enjoys playing violin, running, writing, and playing with her dog Hailey.


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