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6 Habits of Healthier Campuses

Image of college students chatting at a table in a campus dining facility.

Millennials and Generation Z dominate college and university campuses, and according to Nielsen, they are all about healthier options. Across the country, colleges and universities are stepping up to the challenge. From creating bike share programs to stocking vending machines with healthier products to increasing access to one of our personal faves – water – campuses are hard at work meeting the demands of current and prospective students.

But what really makes a campus healthier? In honor of our second annual #HealthyCampus Week, we explored this question and landed on six habits shared across healthier campuses.

  1. Working in Wellness Meals. Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, campuses across the nation are making a habit of ensuring access to at least one registered-dietitian-approved meal at all times. Oklahoma State’s “Meal Planning on Meal Plans” program helps students who are finding it hard to eat healthy while they are on campus by teaching them to make healthy choices at restaurants on campus, eat healthy on the run, shop at convenience stores for healthy options, use the MyPlate guidelines, make easy dorm room meals, and much more.

  2. Working in Healthy Snacks. Many colleges and universities are making healthy snacking options easier by implementing nutrition icons to designate healthy options. UCLA implemented a pilot vending program in which healthier items were grouped together in the machines and labeled with a sticker, while Bucknell University in Pennsylvania has applied a “Featured Food Program” where a different nutritious foods and their health benefits are highlighted each month in campus dining venues. Throughout the month, dishes containing the Featured Food are labeled with a logo to ensure students are aware of the nutritious ingredient.

  3. Building it Healthy. From bike racks to walking paths to pedestrian-friendly signage, colleges and universities are making it easier to fit physical activity into the day. University of Pennsylvania has its own bike share rental program called Penn Cycle, while American University just recently built their own PHA Walking Trail around the tree-laden campus for students and faculty to get in some miles between classes.

  4. Encouraging Movement. Having a fun new fitness class to look forward to makes working out seem like less of a chore. With that in mind, many campuses are offering up classes that will motivate students, faculty and staff to try them out and maybe even become regulars. The George Washington University has planned a series of “GW Sneaker Days” to encourage GW faculty and staff to incorporate more physical activity into their day. From Zumba to spinning to the University of Miami’s Largest Yoga Class that will be held again this year, campuses are getting creative and it’s paying off.

  5. Opting for H2O. It’s hard to say no to free, which is why many campuses are making sure water is readily available at no charge all across campus.

  6. Spreading the Word. This week, colleges and universities across the country – many of whom are part of PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative – are using the hashtag #HealthyCampus to promote the healthier options they have available.

Follow along to find out more, then use the hashtag to tell us how your campus is making healthier options more available for students, faculty and staff!

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