University life can sometimes mean that exercise shifts to the bottom of your list of priorities; particularly during the first few weeks of freshers’ when parting, socialising (and sleeping it all off) take up most of your time. Once freshers’ is over and done with, reality sets in and your academic workload can (rightfully) take priority and may leave you feeling drained and lacking motivation to train.
However, reshuffling your schedule to include regular exercise can not only leave you feeling amazing mentally and physically; but also increase your overall motivation, energy and improve your focus. There are countless benefits to exercise, particularly when it comes to creating healthy habits and encouraging healthy behaviours across all facets of your life – which can prove to be incredibly useful in helping your studies and making your time at university as enjoyable and productive as possible.
If you’re living away from home at University, its hugely important to maintain a strong social network. By merging your social life with physical activity, you get all the benefits of exercise and the feel-good benefits of socializing (minus the hangover and beer fear the next day). Combining your training with being sociable means you’ll meet like minded new people, strengthen your friendships, have a great time in the process, whilst staying on track with your fitness goals! Having people in your life who provide a positive influence can be a huge factor in achieving your goals – whether they be academic, professional or fitness related. Regular training has been shown to also positively influence your dietary and lifestyle choices – meaning, if you’ve committed to a heavy leg day with a mate Tuesday, those Monday night 2-4-1 shots and 3am cheesy chips might not seem (quite) as appealing.
There are many perks that come with training while at university, for one you get free reign of the gym during off-peak times (jammy), and can benefit from generous student discounts for membership and many PT’s offer student deals so ask around if that’s something you are interested in. You can also try your hand at a new sport and meet like minded people interested in similar training through university clubs and societies. Many universities also offer really competitive gym facilities so check out what’s available on campus before forking out for gym membership elsewhere.
In order to make a fitness routine work for you (at university and at home) it’s recommended to put a plan in place to track your progress, support your success and achieve your goals. This means creating a training plan that fits around your lectures, social life and a budget friendly healthy diet – so there’s no excuse to go off-track. See our top 5 low-cost, delicious and nutritious student recipes here for super simple meals you can make in bulk and freeze! One of the great things about making a plan is that it’ll provide you with the structure you need to turn it into a lifestyle to continue long after you graduate.
You also need to be realistic in order to sustain your training and fitness levels while at uni. There will be times that you simply can’t prioritise training and that is absolutely OK. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session or have a week or two (or longer) away from training entirely – sometimes life takes over and s**t happens, so just stay positive and keep in mind that you will get back into it – and you will. Try not to put it off for too long though, the first session back is always a killer but you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time. Perhaps ease yourself back into it with something low intensity such as yoga or swimming, which might feel less daunting than returning straight back to your usual routine – whatever works for you!
There are many different ways you can incorporate your social life:
- Go for a hike – round up your mates, pack a lunch, plenty of water (maybe a few beers) and have a day out away from the city/town. Spending a day with your mates in the great outdoors is a fun and cheap way of incorporating exercise into your social life.
- Join a club or society – universities are teaming with various sports clubs and socs that not only provide a great opportunity to meet people, but also gives some structure to your training as most teams tend to train on the same days/times each week so you can plan it into your everyday life. You can usually be a complete beginner too so why not try your hand at something new, such as rowing or archery!
- Consider group PT – if any of your mates share an interest in training (or would like to start), for anyone lacking self-motivation or working with a qualified PT can help you to kickstart your fitness journey, push through any plateaus and achieve new levels of health and fitness. Small group training sessions are a great way to cut the cost of personal training which can be expensive. Look into small group PT in your area and it’s worth contacting reputable trainers to see what they could offer you as they may offer an additional student discount.
- Get appy – PT not your thing or outside of your budget? There are countless free fitness apps available to help you achieve your fitness goals without costing you a penny! All you need is a pair of trainers and you’ve got a PT in your pocket! Be sure to involve a friend (or few) and pick a workout between you for extra motivation and support. We’re less likely to avoid training with other people; it’s one thing to bail on your own workout – but its way more difficult to bail on a workout when you know you’ll be letting someone else down.
There’s nothing like sharing experiences to bring people together and there’s nothing like having a training partner or being part of a team to keep you on track and motivated. Merging your active lifestyle with your social life creates a really effective synergy that makes both even better and encourages healthy habits in every other aspect of your life!Don’t worry if your uni mates won’t be swayed into joining you; once they realise you mean business and see how much better off you are for it, they may well change their mind and follow suit. Failing that, it’ll only be a matter of time until you meet like minded people if you are regularly training. There’s also a lot to be said for training solo – for one, you won’t have anyone to let you down or bail on your training and there are lots of ways to incorporate solo exercise into your everyday life. For example, you could cycle or walk to and from campus and go for a ride/walk/run in between lectures. Try our super effective workout you can squeeze in even the busiest of days – you can even do it in from your uni bedroom so there really is no excuse!
It’s all about trial and error and finding exercise you enjoy to make a training plan that works for you – and you don’t need to strictly stick to one form of exercise or sport. Varied training can help to keep you motivated and be a nice way to break up your week and use different muscle groups. The key is to stay consistent with your diet and training (no matter what it may be) and you will undoubtedly see results and feel the benefits both mentally and physically – so get planning and smash your goals!