Whether it’s a new year’s resolution or just a budding interest, it can be hard to stay fit during school with everything going on as a student. It can also be quite challenging to find where to start, especially if you’re not the athletic type or if you’re just not a fan of working up a sweat. But like it or not, adults need at least three hours of moderate exercise a week to stay on top of current CDC guidelines. And chances are if you were feeling low on energy before, a little exercise can go a long way in helping you manage stress and feel better overall.
Okay yes, the UConn Rec Center gets disgustingly crowded by the weight racks and yes, it can be very hard to find time to squeeze a routine in. But if you’re not hell-bent on setting a PR — personal best — every time you go to the gym, machines are a great way to start. By minimizing the amount of movement you’re required to do, you can instead focus on targeting areas you want to improve on. You also mitigate the chance of injuring yourself which can cause some pretty serious damage if you’re not careful.
If you’re not feeling motivated enough to go to gym or if you feel a little lost, consider getting a trainer. It can be pretty daunting to walk into a massive gym space while getting overwhelmed by all the options. By having someone to guide you and hold you accountable, it creates an obligation to keep going and to stay consistent. The last thing you want to do is disappoint your trainer.
Even if you’re shy, there are also group settings where you can work out with other people. You can consider joining a class if you want to continue your progress without feeling too self-conscious.
Not a fan of lifting weights or becoming the next Schwarzenegger? Or maybe you’re tired of lifting and need something more? There is absolutely no shame in the cardio game. Ellipticals, treadmills, Stairmasters, ergs — it really doesn’t matter. Finding that special machinery that keeps you motivated and moving can help improve your lung capacity and your general heart health. Personally, I’m a big fan of the elliptical and the erg because of their focus on whole-body movement.
No longer will you be winded by the infamous staircase at McHugh once you hit the Stairmaster for 30 minutes straight. A moment of true triumph indeed.
In addition, gyms are specially designed to allow you to multitask while staying active. Watching Netflix, listening to an audiobook, engaging in a podcast and jamming out to high energy tunes are all ways to keep yourself from boredom — and to distract yourself from the pain.
For some, thinking of sports may remind them of their worst middle school and high school memories: running around the track for a warmup and then shuffling off to a wall to wait aimlessly for 45 minutes. If you’re not a fan of staying indoors and catching varying whiffs of testosterone and body odor, then I highly recommend getting involved in a sport to keep yourself engaged. And before you make the excuse that “sports require me to be outside and it’s cold,” I’d like to remind you that there’s a reason sports are all year round.
Sports like basketball, swimming and rock climbing can take place comfortably indoors. Most would even argue that they’re better indoors than outdoors.
Swimming is one of the most physically demanding sports out there, requiring not only a strong heart and lungs but literally every muscle in your body. With swimming, you can stay cool in the pool while getting a workout that can help you burn 1,000 or more calories over the course of just one hour of working out.
If water isn’t for you, then basketball is another excellent sport. A half-court game of basketball over an hour can burn 500 calories or more while keeping you physically fit. Most of your muscle groups will be engaged over the course of the game, and by staying consistent you can expect to shed more calories if weight loss is your goal.
Maybe you don’t like either of those sports and you long to return to the great outdoors. Well there’s technically nothing stopping you from competing outside — it’s just a little miserable. Sports like skiing and snowboarding can help people stay active and burn over 1,000 calories after a day’s worth of activity. On nicer days, heading outside for a quick game of soccer, lacrosse or tennis can keep you actively moving. Remember: The only thing keeping you from playing outside is the conditions. If you have a high cold tolerance and you’re in an optimal area, there’s nothing stopping you from playing your favorite sports.
Okay, so you don’t like the gym and you’re sure as hell not going outside in the cold. What then? Believe it or not, your dorm room can be a good place to get started and stay active even if you don’t like going outside. Basic calisthenics like pushups, sit-ups and Russian twists are great ways to keep in shape. If I had the time, I’d choose to get my body moving first thing in the morning and start every day off with radio calisthenics. Even something as simple as doing dips with your dorm chair can help you stay healthy after sitting hunched over at a desk for hours.
Contrary to popular belief, yoga and Pilates are not for the weak. Compared to other physical activities, yoga tends to be more relaxing and focuses on flexibility and control — perfect for those with little time to spare and are looking for a quick workout. Pilates on the other hand is like yoga, but with more pressure put on your muscle groups. Focusing on holding complex positions can make you realize how under-utilized some of your muscles are and by targeting them, it can help you feel good at everyday tasks. Resistance exercises are also another great way to strengthen your body without having to worry about stubbing your toe on the dumbbells your roommate left out.
The best way to get into fitness is to find ways to have fun while still challenging yourself. It isn’t always going to be easy. There will be exercises that fatigue you more than others, or days where playing against a competing team really pushes you to your limits. But if all you want is to maintain a healthy body, start by exercising in some way for just 30 minutes a day and overtime it’ll add up to years of progress.