Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Mike Jones. We would like to thank him for his submission and credit him as the author of this blog post. You can learn more about him on Twitter.
Working out regularly is beneficial not only to your physical health, but also to your mind. Sustained physical activity helps you relieve stress, clear your mind, and improve your concentration. Therefore, achieving your fitness goals can also help you achieve your educational and academic ones.
When you lead a fast-paced life full of responsibilities, finding the time to uphold an exercise routine is tough. Staying fit can be especially tricky when you’re in school because you have both homework to do and classes to attend, not to mention extracurriculars to participate in and friends to spend time with. What if there was a way to fulfill all of your commitments while still working to stay healthy?
Fortunately, it’s perfectly possible to work toward your fitness goals and keep your grades up at the same time. Furthermore, there are plenty of things you can try if you’re on a budget, as many students are. Here are four tips that will help you stay fit even when you’re busy.
1. Work out on your way to class.
According to Monica Vasquez, a master trainer from New York City, the best way to integrate a workout into a busy schedule is by doing it while on your daily commute. You can do this by running from home to school each day or the other way around (which saves you the cost of a train ticket or bus fare). If you’re a novice in matters of exercising and your endurance level doesn’t allow you to run the entire distance just yet, then get off the subway or bus two or three stops before you reach campus, and run the shorter distance instead.
If running isn’t your cup of tea, a cool alternative is riding your bike. Try cycling to class at least twice a week to begin with. Not only is cycling a great physical activity, but it’s also environmentally friendly. On top of that, you won’t have to deal with that pesky morning traffic anymore, which is a great added benefit. Remember to wear your helmet, install a bell, and, if you’ll be riding in the dark, get a light and wear reflective gear.
2. Exercise during your lunch break.
Your lunch break offers you the amazing opportunity to nosh on some energy-boosting foods that will keep you healthy and alert for the rest of the day. Load up on fruits, veggies, and protein, but skip the sweets and the empty carbs. A balanced diet will go far.
Depending on how much time you have for lunch, you may be able to split your time between actually eating and accomplishing other tasks. If you are worried about staying fit and healthy, reserve fifteen to twenty minutes for a quick lunch and use the rest of your time for working out.
You can either work out on the spot in your dorm or your floor’s common room, or you can pay the gym a short and sweet visit. If you don’t have a gym on campus, this could be a bit more costly, but most colleges and universities have at least one gym that’s only open to students. If yours doesn’t for some reason, shop around for local gyms that offer student discounts.
A good and quick on-campus workout routine includes squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and push-ups. If you feel brave and determined enough, you can even try planking. Another alternative is yoga, which offers great exercise (and stress relief!). Practice in your dorm room or grab your mat and yoga pants and find a cozy space to start stretching.
3. Multitask at the gym.
The gym is the perfect place to multitask while working out, and it can go many ways. One way to multitask at the gym is to perform multiple workouts at once by jumping on the treadmill with a couple of dumbbells. Set the treadmill to a brisk walk and do one-minute sets of side laterals, shoulder presses, and tricep extensions for a full-body exercise.
Another way to get two things done at once is to listen to an audiobook during your workout session. This way, you can research your next paper and get fit at the same time. You were probably already listening to music anyway, so why not replace it with something educational? Of course, this is only possible if your mandatory reading comes in audiobook form, but nowadays many textbooks do.
Amazon.com provides a reliable library of books and textbooks in audio form, or you can give Audible.com a try. The two websites are partners, but you might have a better chance of finding what you’re looking for if you search both, seeing as their databases do not always overlap. If you’re a literature major (or just a bibliophile), this is even more useful; you can likely find all of your required reading in audio form between both sites.
4. Stick to a clear schedule.
Health.com suggests planning your week before it starts and designating set periods of time for workouts. It may help if you try to do more of your work on the weekend; skip that fourth beer with your friends on Saturday night so that you can wake up early on Sunday and start on your coursework.
This will not only ensure that you get good grades, but it will also leave you with a few extra hours of free time throughout the week during which you can engage in physical activity. It might be hard to stay motivated and you might be tempted to use your spare time to watch TV shows (which, coincidentally, you can do while you’re on the treadmill), but try to control yourself and stick to your schedule.
The takeaway: While finding the time to work out is complicated when you’re trying to balance both school and a social life at the same time, it’s not impossible. The easiest way to integrate exercise into your schedule is to use your daily commute to class as an opportunity to exercise. This is easily achievable by either running, walking, or biking.
Furthermore, you can find time for a half-hour workout session each day if you’re careful to use your time wisely. If you avoid procrastination, you will be amazed at how much free time you will have during the week. These four tips are enough to get you started, but the rest is up to you. Keep your weeks planned and your motivation up, and don’t give up on your goal to stay healthy.