Balancing lectures, essays and socializing with your health and fitness is tough - there's no two ways about it. But despite the copious alcohol on offer, and resulting late night trips to the kebab van, it is possible to stay in shape while you're at university. Here are six top tips for keeping on top of your fitness when you're studying!
1) Buy a gym membership
This may sound obvious but it will give you some accountability. When I was a student money wasn't exactly free flowing so, hopefully, if you are paying for a gym membership it will make you want to make the most of it and will keep you going.
2) Schedule your gym trips
Although every thinks that when you are a student you have unlimited free time to spend watching Jeremy Kyle, this is not always the case. Workloads can be heavy and the stress can make you think you need to spend every waking minute in the library. YOU DON'T. Set yourself a time to go to the gym. I used to like going in the morning as it was a more exciting prospect to wake up to than going to sit at a computer all day. Making the gym part of your routine will also make the habit stick. Try to go to the gym at the same time, on the same days each week. Half way through term you won't even notice that you're making time for it anymore - it'll be natural.
3) Plan a decent programme
The gym can be stressful if you don't have plan. There is nothing worse than getting in, looking around and not knowing what you are going to do. Often, this leads to people doing the same thing every time, because they can't think of what they should be doing. This can lead to you losing the enjoyment of going to the gym and it will also stop you making the progress you could be making. So try and plan what you are going to do, no matter how basic. If you struggle to do this or just don't know how to then maybe go to some classes at the gym or think about getting a personal trainer.
4) Get a gym buddy
Going to the gym with a friend can help on a number of different levels. Firstly, making the gym more of a social event will continue to keep it more interesting, thus keeping you going. Secondly, it means that if you are having an off day and can't be bothered to train, then hopefully your friend won't be feeling the same and will encourage/force you to go to the gym and I guarantee you'll thank them for it afterwards. Finally, if you are a super competitive person it will make you push harder when you work out.
5) Set a goal
You may have heard us bang on about goal setting before, that's because its damn important! You wouldn't do all your uni work if you didn't know you were going to get a degree at the end of it, or if you didn't want a degree. So why would you put in loads of work at the gym if you don't know what you want the end result to be? Whatever it is, make sure you know what you want from your efforts and keep that in mind.
6) Do things you enjoy
Obviously, it's nice to optimize what you do at the gym but if for some reason you can't do that, don't get disheartened and just remember that something is always better than nothing. You have still made the effort to go, you have still burned calories and stimulated your muscles, you will still get that self-righteous feeling and can brag about going to the gym. Finally, doing things you don't like will nearly always lead to you stopping doing it. So do things you enjoy when you go the gym whether it's a Zumba class or lifting ridiculously heavy weights.
So next time work feels overwhelming, take a break, plan your gym trips, and refocus on your health and fitness. By the end of term, you should definitely be seeing some results!
Co-authored by Pete Burke, Personal Trainer at Hall Training Systems.