Your time in university can be stressful – expectations from your parents and professors, studying, assignments, a job, varsity commitments, and finding time with friends can make you feel you are too busy to be active. Balancing school and an active lifestyle may seem like a daunting task for some, but the key to enjoying and flourishing in university is to stay active and find that balance between school and the activities you love to do. Being active helps reduce stress, focus the mind, improve memory – all things that will benefit you during your years of study.
If you are still not convinced that you can fit activity into your day, think about the amount of time you sit during the day. You sit to study, you sit to eat, you sit in class, and you probably sit at your part-time job. That is a lot of sitting. Remember that our bodies are designed to move, they want to move!
Here are a few best practices that can help you follow through and keep moving, even during the busy exam season.
1. Be social with your exercise: Help maintain your motivation, take a group fitness class with friends or do a small group training session. By working out with your friends or a group there is a sense of commitment to be at the class or session, and to not let your friends down. Have fun together and challenge each other to give it your all each time you work out. By working out with friends, you won't have to sacrifice social time for your exercise.
2. Do a unique fitness activity: If you are already a regular exerciser and are finding your fitness "routine," step out of the box and try something you have never done – but go for a challenge. Try a Spartan Race or Stand-Up Paddling or even an adventure race. Train for an event that you have always been curious about. The key is to make it a challenge, outside your normal realm of activity so that when you meet the challenge the reward is that much more satisfying.
3. Variety is the spice of life: Variety in what you do will help you stay motivated, so think about what activities you do or how you do them. Check out your campus athletics & recreation department for details on the various activities available to you. Many of them are paid for by your student fees or have minimal costs. Try casual recreation basketball or soccer, intramural sports, join a recreational club, sign up for a fitness class or try out for a varsity team. Choose to try something different each semester. You never know you may find a new activity that you will fall in love with.
4. Run: Running is something that we all know how to do. You can do it anywhere, it has no cost, no schedule or rules and you can do it at your own pace. Power walk or run from one class to the next instead of a leisurely walk, run to meet your friends for lunch or to the library to study. Running gets you to your destination faster, and frees up more time in your schedule for study or socializing.
5. Get your 150: The recommended minimum amount of physical activity for an adult is 150 minutes per week. How you get that 150 minutes does not matter. A study at Queen's University has determined that adults who accumulate 150 minutes of activity in a few days a week are not less healthy than those who exercise regularly.
Finding a balance between school and activity during university will result in a more enjoyable experience and can follow you throughout your lifetime. Individuals who are active during university are more likely to be, and stay, active throughout their lifetime.
Tiffany Bambrick is a Certified Personal Trainer, Athletics & Recreation, Queen's University.