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This is how you'll stay healthy in your first year at university

Henk Strikkers,
28 augustus 2019 - 10:51

Pizza, beer and clubbing: student life can take a toll on your body. But it doesn’t have to. Here are 5 tips on how to stay healthy and happy. 

1.    Talk about sex

For students, there’s pressure to succeed everywhere, even in the bedroom says Iris Bunte (25, sexologist at the General Practitioners Practice UvA). ‘Students feel like they always have to achieve something, even during sex. In the past, people fought hard for sexual freedom but nowadays there’s little room for discussion.’ Bunte regularly speaks to men with erection problems or who think they come ‘too early’, or women who experience pain during sex or who just don’t feel arousal. ‘I think social media plays a large part in this drive towards perfection. We shouldn’t feel awkward talking about sex’.  Are you signed up at the General Practitioners Practice UvA and would like to talk to Iris? Then send a mail to

Foto: ume-y (cc, via Flickr)

2.    Find a sport that suits you

The University Sports Centre offers over one-hundred different sports, so it can be hard to find a sport that suits you, says fitness instructor Ilse Jongboom (27, student International Development). ‘That’s why we organise a try-out evening in September where you can try sixteen lessons in three hours. If you sign up, you get unlimited use of our sport facilities for 10 euros a month for the first three months.’ Jongboom advises to start exercising with friends. ‘That makes exercise social and easier to stick to.’ It’s always difficult to find the time to exercise during exam weeks, but it’s important to try and make the time he says. ‘No one is able to concentrate for ten hours straight’.


3.    Buy plants

The benefits are unlimited but how about some of these: plants produce oxygen, regulate humidity, make your environment smell good and can increase your productivity by up to 15 per cent, according to UvA’s plant biologist Petra Bleeker who researches plant and insect communication. Which should you buy? Bleeker: ‘NASA research points out that ivy (Hedera helix) can absorb smoke and smog. And it’s inexpensive.’ The spoon plant (Spathiphyllum) can do the same thing, ‘but is quite ugly.’ If you’re not the best plant mom or dad, then choose a plant with thick leaves. ‘As a general rule, plants with thick leaves need less water. For example try a sanseveria. We have one in our office it’s impossible to kill, even when we watered it with beer.’

If you’re not the best plant mom or dad, then choose a plant with thick leaves, for example a sanseveria. ‘Ours was impossible to kill, we even watered it with beer’

4.    Just do it: put away your phone

Your phone is the perfect tool to magic away reality. But things like Instagram will distract you from your feelings, says general practitioner Peter Vonk. ‘Without your phone, you can better experience life.’ Nobody feels great all the time, but ‘with social media it can be easy to feel like you’re the only one having a miserable time. And this will make you feel even worse.’


5.    Join a student organisation

Instead of spending hours scrolling, join a club. Whether you choose a fraternity, sorority or a study association, it’s important to meet new people, make friends and talk about stuff, the good and the bad.