Four Health Tips for Students in Online Degree Programs

Healthy habits have been linked to many benefits like improving self-confidence, living longer, fewer trips to the doctor and a decreased need for medications. For students in online degree programs there are also things to try that can improve your health and impact your studying. Next time you sit down for an extended study session, consider these tips.
1. Move around – When you are taking classes online you are at your computer a lot. You need to stay focused, but make sure you also take breaks to stand up and move around. Recent research has shown that prolonged sitting contributes to things like heart disease, risk of stroke, and other serious issues. While most of these studies focus on older adults, practicing good desk health habits while you’re young may help you avoid issues as you age. So for every hour you study take a couple minutes to get up, walk around your house, dance about, march or just walk to the door and come back.
2. Give your eyes a break – Long and continued use of a computer can cause eyestrain. And, with mobile technology being as prevalent as it is today, your eyes don’t get a break often enough! Many experts recommend you follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent issues with your eyes. To follow the rule be sure to stop looking at your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. To prevent these breaks from being a distraction, try looking away from your screen every time you have to think through an answer or are memorizing a new fact.
3. Sit up straight – Now is the time to listen to the advice of your fourth grade teacher’s advice: sit up straight at your desk. That, of course, first requires you to study at a desk! If you use a laptop to study and find yourself on the couch, invest in a lap desk to keep from hunching over your computer. If you have a desk already, here are a few tips to practice good posture: line the top of your computer to the height of your eyes and tilt your monitor slightly up, keep your forearms supported and as parallel as possible to the floor, tilt your pelvis forward slightly so your weight is on your legs instead of your tailbone, use the back of your chair to support you (but don’t slouch against it), and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest if your legs don’t reach that far.
4. Snack with caution – One benefit of enrolling in online degree programs is you can avoid crummy cafeteria food and save money by eating in. If you need to grab a quick lunch before logging into a class – you can simply go to your kitchen! But, that easy access to food can also cause distracted eating. Studies have shown that when you are not paying attention to what you eat, you tend to eat more. Try scheduling breaks while studying to eat away from your desk (which will help you practice tips 1 and 2 from this article!). If you have to snack while studying, limit yourself to foods that are known to increase brain function like blueberries, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains or wild salmon. Also pour those snacks into a small bowl instead of bringing the whole bag to your desk to keep you from eating more than you need. Practicing these healthy tips can help you stay focused for long study sessions, improve your ability to retain information and keep you healthy so you can stay on track with your degree!

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