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2. A change in exercise habits. You might have been on one or more sports teams in high school or been in the habit of walking or biking around town to see friends. The demands of college life, including part-time work, can make it difficult to find time for exercise when required sports practices or P.E. classes are no longer on your daily schedule. All that walking around campus may seem like a lot of exercise, but may not add up as much as you think. The 2012 National College Health Assessment showed that less than half of college students get the recommended amount of aerobic exercise each week. You may need to find new ways to include fitness in your day like these simple dorm room workout ideas. And remember that even if you're time-crunched, short workouts do offer major benefits for your health and your waistline. If you can get in the habit of exercising regularly in college, it will serve you for years to come. Life will always be busy and stressful, but a consistent fitness habit will help you stay in shape—and might even earn you a higher salary once you've earned your diploma.
3. An increase in alcohol consumption. Most people reach the legal drinking age during their college years, and many college students start drinking as soon as they move away from home. More than 50 percent of participants in the 2012 National College Health Assessment admitted to consuming five or more drinks in one sitting (considered to be binge drinking) at least once during the previous two weeks. This level of drinking can definitely lead to weight gain; it can contribute to a host of other legal, safety, health and academic problems as well. While there are proven health benefits to occasional, moderate alcohol consumption, overdoing it can easily lead to trouble.
4. A decrease in sleep. The 2012 National College Health Assessment showed that less than 11 percent of students reported getting enough sleep during the week, while more than half reported feeling tired most days. Whether you pull an all-nighter to study for a big exam or to go out partying with your friends, the negative results will be the same: Lack of sleep is correlated with weight gain due to hormonal changes, increased appetite and increased calorie consumption. A study published in a 2013 issue of the journal Sleep showed that restricting sleep in subjects led them to consume an extra 500 calories the next day. Poor sleep habits have been shown to have negative effects on weight in other ways, too. It's not always easy to get all the sleep you need while pursuing good grades and having a social life, but listening to your body can help. If you are tired, head home early or take a power nap. If you just pulled an all-nighter, just say no to tomorrow's party invite. It's all about balance. And when you know you're going to be up late, watch what you eat (and drink) during those extra wakeful hours and the following days.