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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges for Healthy Campus Living

March is National Nutrition Month, and nothing complements a strong mind more than a healthy body. For students, it’s important to eat well and get plenty of sleep, but sometimes college life isn’t positively associated with healthy living. With common misconceptions about the “freshman fifteen,” stress eating when cramming for finals, and the overall nutritional quality of campus food, students may feel like a healthy lifestyle might be lost on campus. Fortunately, that’s not always the case.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we have gathered a list of schools that have committed to healthy dining and fitness facilities, as well as comprehensive student services to help maintain student bodies that eat well, play well, and stay well. Here is Dr. Kat’s list of five schools for healthy campus living!

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Maintaining a healthy campus lifestyle often starts with getting, and staying, active. At the University of North Dakota, students have access to one of the grandest fitness facilities in the country.

The UND Student Wellness Center, opened in 2006, is a $20 million gym that was financed with a wellness fee students voted in favor of to pay for the new facility. Students have access to an array of fitness equipment, classes, a lounge for relaxation and meditation, and free fitness and health assessments.

Complementing the commitment to physical fitness is UND’s dedication to healthy eating. Through its alliance with the “Guiding Stars” nutrition rating system, UND helps students make healthy choices in the dining hall, which they have unlimited access to through the $4,000 a year meal plan. Offerings include produce from local farmers, and students who would like to make their own meals can stop by the wellness center for a cooking lesson or reserve one of the kitchens for private use.

UND also promotes its 7 Dimensions approach to overall health, which, in addition to physical fitness, includes emotional, spiritual, social, environmental, intellectual, and occupational wellness. Through this program students have access to a variety of different departments and services, including counseling, peer educators and student health services.

Located in Grand Forks, ND, this public university’s 550-acre campus is home to 12 freshmen dorms and 15,250 students from all 50 states and 60 countries. UND students can participate in any of the campus’ 275 student organizations and have the choice among over 200 fields of study.

Students studying aviation, engineering, wellness, or honors students can participate in one of the school’s living and learning communities, where students within the same major can live, interact, and study together. UND students have a high graduation rate, and 95% of grads go on to full-time employment or into graduate programs shortly after graduation.

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Ivy League schools may be known for their academics, but hitting the books doesn’t mean students miss out on hitting the gym. Students at Princeton University take pride in their campus athletic facilities, often giving them top-notch reviews. Campus facilities include multiple gymnasiums, a fitness center, swimming pools, a climbing wall, and a hockey rink.

The 8,000 square foot Stephens Fitness Center includes aerobic, cardio, and strength equipment, along with an array of free weights, benches, barbells, and the Cardio Annex, which opened in 2008. At the Dillon Gymnasium students have access to a recreational lap pool, as well as a dance studio, martial arts room, spinning room, and squash courts.

Princeton also promotes campus fitness through the Outdoor Action program that offers fun adventures like kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. There are also 35 different sports clubs for students to choose from to stay active, including ultimate frisbee, figure skating, ballroom dance, and table tennis.

The food is certainly something to write home about, too. The school has previously worked with Chef Cary Neff to create Conscious Cuisine options that are low-calorie, whole grain, organic, and high in nutrients. Princeton has also eliminated trans-fat from the menu entirely, and with the Greening Princeton Farmer’s Market, students are able to take advantage of locally-grown produce.

Aside from physical fitness, the Healthier Princeton Program also promotes health education, disease prevention, and psychological wellness. Free online health assessments are available through their Health Services, and students have access to peer advising groups and counseling to address a variety of issues. Princeton also has one of the most comprehensive health libraries. The Janet C. Morgan Health and Wellness Library allows students the opportunity to sit back, relax, and learn about healthy living.

As the fourth oldest college in the US, this private research university has a reputation that stretches farther than just its commitment to healthy living. Located in Princeton, NJ, the school’s campus spans 500 acres and includes 180 buildings. The school’s 5,264 undergraduate students come from more than 98 countries, and have access to the campus’s 11 libraries and 7 million books.

Students can expand their social wellness through any of the school’s over 300 clubs and organizations. With clubs like the Cube Club, for Rubiks Cube enthusiasts, Flavor Club, for students interested in learning about ethnic food and cultures, and the Muggle Quidditch Team, there is something for everyone on campus.

Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
You don’t have to go to a large school to have access to a wide range of top-notch fitness and dining amenities. At Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, students of this small, private college can live just as healthy on a smaller scale.

Known for its fine cuisine, Wheaton’s dining halls have been consistently ranked as some of the best in the country, with a chef dedicated to serving the best, and healthiest, meals. Much of the produce used on Wheaton’s campus is locally-grown and sustainable in order to maintain the highest quality of nutrients and freshness. Students are also able to make informed decisions on healthy eating options by selecting foods in the dining halls marked with the “Just4U” leaf.

The school’s campus dining services site also has a plethora of resources regarding healthy eating and making better food choices.

For the physical approach to healthy living, students can take yoga, pilates, and Zumba classes for free at the Wheaton Sports and Recreation Complex. The rec center also boasts an 8,000 square foot weight room, three gyms, jogging track, pool, and a dance studio, among other offerings. Students can take part in the annual Ironman Challenge where participants swim, bike, and run the distances of an Ironman Triathlon during the winter semester. Progress is tracked on the weight room bulletin board and finishers get special t-shirts.

Wheaton’s self-care center gives students access to over-the-counter medicines for free, and even rents out crutches and heating pads. Students can also take advantage of the shuttle service to get to and from off-campus doctor’s appointments.

Located 25 miles west of Chicago, Wheaton is a private, interdenominational Christian liberal arts college with an undergraduate enrollment of 2,500. Students come from all 50 states, 42 countries, and over 50 Christian church denominations. While students generally only live on campus for the first one or two years at most colleges, Wheaton is residential for all undergraduates, with 88% of students living on campus.

With most students living on campus, Wheaton is able to provide an array of activities and events for everyone to participate in! Every year, Wheaton hosts Air Jam, a performance competition that attracts an audience of over 1,200 people. Originally starting as a lip-sync competition in the 1980s, Air Jam is made up of individuals and teams performing with elaborate choreography, crazy costumes, and wild antics. Wheaton also hosts a roller disco every winter since 2008, and it has become one of the most popular events on campus.

University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Southern kitchens have a reputation for offering less-than-heart-healthy meals, but at the University of Georgia, students are able to make smart dining and health choices with the help of various campus resources.

UGA’s food services website offers a “build-your-plate” web app that lets students calculate the nutritional content of their meals. They also offer a mobile web app that allows students to update their meal plans, see the occupancy in certain dining halls, and leave feedback and reviews.

In the dining halls, low-calorie and vegetarian items are clearly marked so students can make informed decisions about what they’re eating. Dieticians are also available for free one-on-one nutrition counseling, and an eight-session Eating Smart course helps students develop healthy habits.

While eating healthy is certainly important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so is exercise and overall wellness. The 440,000 square foot Ramsey Student Center has something for everyone who wants to become more active. The center boasts various amenities including a climbing wall, boxing studio, 1/8 mile track, swimming pool, volleyball arena, and several racquetball courts. Students participating in club and intramural sports take advantage of the Recreational Sports Complex’s nine fields, along with 15 tennis courts, batting cages, and a 2.5 mile fitness trail.

Along with eating well and playing often, the school’s Healthy Dawg program promotes wellness through multiple initiatives promoting, not only physical health, but also emotional, social and spiritual wellness, among others. Students can participate in any of the Healthy Dawg seminars and workshops that cover topics from flu awareness to stress and anxiety management.

Chartered in 1785, this public research university was America’s first state-chartered university. Today, the school’s campus boasts 389 buildings on 759 acres. UGA’s 26,215 undergraduate students can choose from over 140 fields of study, and have access to one of the nation’s best research libraries with 4.7 million volumes and one of the nation’s largest map collections. UGA also is one of the top producers of U.S. Fulbright scholars with 13 recipients from 2012-13.

UGA students, aside from their dedication to healthy living, are also known for their adventurous side. Nearly a quarter of graduating seniors have studied abroad at least once, and UGA is consistently ranked nationally for the number of students studying abroad. Bulldog students looking for an international experience can choose from over 100 school-affiliated programs, including three year-round residential sites in Costa Rica, Oxford, England, and Cortona, Italy.

Colby College, Waterville, ME
Another small school with a big commitment to healthy living is Colby College in Waterville, ME. Physical fitness and athletic participation is big on Colby’s campus, with nearly one third of the student body participating in one or more of the school’s 32 intercollegiate varsity sports, in addition to the iPlay intramural teams. The school’s athletic facilities include a number of soccer fields, tennis courts, an 8.5 mile cross country trail, and the 10-acre Colby-Hume Center along Messalonskee Lake.

Open on weekends, with a well-trained crew of volunteer EMTs, Colby’s health center goes above and beyond to keep students safe and sound. The Student Health on Campus (SHOC) organization hosts workshops and events to educate students on a variety of health and wellness topics, and in addition to individual therapy, students can also join a weekly meditation group or any of the campus’s support groups at the health center.

Colby’s on-campus food options are also in line with the school’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle, with food options like fresh-ground peanut butter and organic produce from the campus garden. 20% of the campus food is grown locally in Maine, and students are able to easily navigate dining hall choices with foods distinctly marked as “balanced,” “gluten-free,” “local,” “organic,” and “vegetarian.”

Located in Waterville, ME, this private liberal arts college offers 54 majors and 30 minors for its almost 2,000 students. Founded in 1813, Colby was the first all-male college in New England to accept female students, and is the 12th oldest independent liberal arts college in the US.

Apart from its dedication to healthy campus living, Colby also promotes giving back to others, with 63% of students volunteering in a variety of projects and service initiatives. First-year students also have the opportunity to participate in Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips (COOT), where entering freshman get a unique orientation with outdoor activities including backpacking and camping.

So whether it’s eating right, staying active, or practicing wellness in all other facets of your life, these campuses have great resources to keep their students healthy. Other schools with healthy campuses include UCLA, St. Olaf College, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Missouri. No matter where you end up, practicing a healthy lifestyle while living on campus is key to a fun and rewarding college experience!


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