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Six Tips for College Health and Safety

College students with booksGoing to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. College is a great time for new experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Here are a few pointers for college students on staying safe and healthy.

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle starting with diet and exercise. In 2007-2010, 23% of young adults ages 18-24 were obese. The amount of food you need to eat from each food group depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. Follow an eating plan with correct portions of the basic food groups. Also be aware that beverages may be adding extra calories. Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week.
  2. Sexual assault is a particular problem on college campuses. One in five women have been sexually assaulted while in college and 80 % of female victims experience their first rape before the age of 25. Students should know their rights, and seek help immediately if they or someone they know is the victim of violence.
  3. Sexually transmitted infections can be prevented. They are also treatable, and many are curable. Half of all new sexually transmitted diseases occur among young people aged 15 to 24 years. College students and others who are sexually active should get tested to know their status and protect themselves and their sexual partners. Abstinence, not having sex, is the most reliable way to avoid infection.
  1. Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men over a short period of time. About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks. Binge drinking is a factor that increases your chances for risky sexual behavior, unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, car crashes, violence, and alcohol poisoning.  Get the facts about alcohol use and health and learn what you can do to prevent binge drinking.
  2. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and causes many diseases like cancer, and heart and respiratory diseases. In 2012, 17.3% of adults ages 18-24 were cigarette smokers. Encourage college students to quit smoking, and avoid starting during these important years. Hear tips from former smokers.  
  3. Managing stress and maintaining good balance is important for college students. A few ways to manage stress are to get enough sleep, avoid drugs and alcohol, connect socially, and seek help from a medical or mental health professional, including if depressed or experiencing distress. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24 years. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you or a friend is struggling with a health or safety problem, you can:

  • Talk to someone you trust for support.
  • Visit your college health center or local clinic or hospital.
  • Contact the campus or community police if your or someone else’s safety is threatened.
  • Page last reviewed: August 11, 2014
  • Page last updated: August 11, 2014
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