By Georgia Tindale.
If we’re being honest, it has to be said that trying to keep fit at university is hard. If you’ve just started as a fresher, I bet that by the end of freshers’ week you will realise that you’ve done no exercise whatsoever, and no, clubbing doesn’t count! Not exercising enough due to work stress, a lack of time or any other reason is totally understandable, especially when you’ve just moved to a new city.
But given it’s fairly important not to descend into a totally unfit lump, I’ve compiled a list of easy and cheap things you can do in order to avoid the ‘freshers’ fifteen’ and keep yourself at peak fitness levels at uni.
1) Walk or cycle everywhere
Now this sounds obvious, but it’s such a simple way of incorporating exercise into your daily routine even when the weather is grim. I know people who’ve brought cars to uni and will use them to get to lectures when there is the slightest bit of drizzle, but try not to! As long as you have a decent raincoat, a bit of walking won’t kill you, and it’s a great way of waking yourself up for those dreaded 9am starts.
2) Exercise in your room
This may sound a little odd, but so many students I know do this. Whether you want to do yoga, cardio or resistance, YouTube is full of workouts you can do in the comfort (and privacy!) of your room, and it can be a very effective way to let off steam without anyone seeing you. Just make sure to tell your housemates that that’s what the strange noises coming from your room are!
3) Go to sport taster sessions
If you get in there early, most sports societies run cheap, or free taster sessions at the beginning of term, and it’s a fun way of trying slightly more offbeat sports (korfball anyone?) without paying much for them. If you decide they’re not for you, you can at least get a couple of weeks of exercise in by trying loads of different ones.
4) Find an exercise buddy
Some people prefer to exercise alone, but for many people, the added pressure of someone else being involved (especially if they’re meeting you at a specific time) really helps to keep the motivation up. In my experience, it’s also a really lovely way of making friends: you’ll have suffered through a lot together by the end of the year!
5) Vary your exercise routine
This one is absolutely key. Although you could go running every day, that would not be very good for your body, and may well make you bored and unmotivated. Personally, I find that changing up my exercise routine regularly, and doing different things during the week (a run one day, a break, swimming another day, cycling the next), makes sure that keeping fit is fun and interesting, not a chore.
Uni can be a stressful and isolating place, and given that exercise releases endorphins, boosting your mood and helping to keep anxiety at bay, it is not something to neglect. And as I’ve hopefully demonstrated in this article, you definitely don’t need to pay loads of money to join the gym in order to get the full benefits which exercise can bring.