As college students, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have time to do much outside of school. We spend so many hours studying for tests, completing assignments, and working part-time jobs that many of us completely forgo exercise, whether it be a lack of time or a lack of energy.
Many people view exercise as another form of work — just another stressor to fit into an already busy schedule. However, exercise doesn’t have to be that way. Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do in college to improve your physical and mental health — and you can have fun doing it.
First, you need to realize that you most likely have the time to exercise. This is particularly important for those with an “all-or-nothing” mindset (such as myself) to recognize. It doesn’t take much to start seeing the many benefits of exercise (reduced depression, increased lean body mass, reducing fat, healthier organs, better sleep, etc.) There is no reason you need to spend 10+ hours in the gym each week; a good baseline to start at is trying to exercise at least 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week.
While I can’t speak for everyone, I think it is safe to assume most of us can find half an hour every couple of days to move around. Maybe some days you legitimately do not have the time, and that’s okay, life happens! The important thing is to make an effort to get moving when you can find the time.
Okay, let’s say you’ve found the time to get in a workout, but — like many people — you’re dreading the workout because you feel like you are having to do it rather than wanting to do it. If you view exercise this way, then you will likely fall off after week one.
It is incredibly important to take the “work” out of “working out”. Workouts should be fun! If exercise is something that’s going to become part of your life going forward, you should enjoy the physical activity you are choosing to partake in.
For me, I don’t like long-distance running (except during the summer). It makes my feet hurt, I get bored, and Oregon’s cold most of the year, meaning I have to wear layers at the beginning of the run, only to have to shed them once I begin to heat up. Since I don’t like running, I just don’t do it.
I love lifting weights and I love playing basketball, and even though I’m getting in exercise by doing those activities, it’s mentally relaxing, and I enjoy myself quite a bit. Exercise doesn’t have to be pounding out miles on a treadmill or forcing yourself to do squats and box jumps. Some fun ideas to get started are:
- Going on a walk with a friend (or with some good music). Walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace, you can get 2-3 miles covered, and the time will fly by as you and your friend talk, or while you get lost in your music of choice.
- Joining in on one of the many hour-long classes offered at Beauchamp. You can get some cardio in during spin class, or you can relax and work on your flexibility in a yoga session. When you exercise in a group, you have others to push you to work harder. Plus, you know you are not alone in your “suffering”.
- Signing up for an intramural sport. Sports are a great way to get active, and intramurals don’t take up more than an hour. You get to play a game with and against other students, and bragging rights over your friends are always a nice incentive to get active.
Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. If you can set aside just a little bit of time a few times a week, you will see start to see improvements in your health. Working out tends to be a self-reinforcing activity as well — as you see improvement, you will be more encouraged to exercise often. I guess, if I try to sum up what I’m trying to say in only a few words, I would say: don’t sweat the sweat! Okay that was kind of lame, I’m sorry you had to read that.
Connor Lorber is a photographer and video producer for The Beacon.