Creating healthy habits: physical health

1 December 2020

Physical health is closely linked to mental health: they are both essential for your wellbeing. There are plenty of opportunities for students to create healthy habits to look after your mind and body in easy and affordable ways.

A woman performs a stretch on a blue yoga mat on the floor, in front of a concrete wall.

Why should I look after my physical health? 

Physical health is important is important for staying healthy, keeping your body moving and enabling your body to perform its essential functions. Physical wellbeing isn’t just about getting active: it covers a whole range of things including exercise, nutrition and sleep.  

Physical health is also closely linked to mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help lift your mood. It can also increase your energy and productivity – both essential for some of those long days of studying that come around this time of year. 

Being a student shouldn't mean you don't have time to look after yourself, nor ignore it just because you might be young. Getting into some healthy habits now can help you in many ways, with immediate and long-term benefits. 


In the time of COVID-19, it is harder to exercise in the ways we might like. While you may not be able to do the activities you normally do, try to think of alternatives that are similar. If you normally go to the gym, or go to exercise classes, there are plenty of these online and on YouTube. It’s not the same – but it’s important to try and keep moving in a way that works for you.   

If you’re looking for a place to start, why not join one of Project Active’s sessions, or if you live in UCL halls, an activity run through the Flourish programme. These online sessions are a great way to try out new forms of exercise from the comfort of your own home, and they cover a wide range of different ways to exercise.  

Remember: the way that you choose to exercise may well be different to your friends, and that’s okay! It can take a bit of time to work out what activity is most effective, and above all, enjoyable for you. Be patient in trying things out – you might just find a new hobby.  

Sign up for a class run by Project Active.

Sign up for a class through Flourish.  

Get started by trying out some of our top picks of free fitness apps.  


As well as moving your body, it is important to be mindful of the things you eat and drink, and ensure these are nutrient-rich. Try to make sure you are drinking plenty of water, being mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake. Cook yourself nutritious meals which centre on fresh vegetables, with a good amount of protein and finally some carbohydrates. Fruit and nuts are great to snack on throughout the day, and fresh foods are always better than processed foods.   

Again, the way that you fuel your body will be different to how your friends do. Be mindful of what your body needs, and nourish yourself accordingly. You can’t go wrong with balanced meals that have lots of colour and a balance between food groups.  

Get inspiration from UCL student Julie’s ideas for some meals you could even share with your housemates.  

Get inspired with recipes from BBC Good Food.  


Sleep is also a key part of physical health, as good rest allows our brains and bodies to rest and repair themselves. Having good sleep, and sleep of a high quality, is essential for us to operate, think and move in everyday life to the best of our abilities.  

Read more about how to create healthy sleeping habits.