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Back to School Part 3: Staying Fit in College

Categories: Fitness, Well-being
students in library

By Zoe Smith, UCF College Student
Part 3 of 3:  A college student’s perspective for surviving and thriving!

Hello again! It’s Zoe from UCF, back for part 3, how to stay fit as a college student! If you missed part 2, follow this link and check out my tips for good eating habits and making healthy choices. While going off to college can be a life-changing experience, for many people, college may be the first-time individuals have to take care of themselves and start making their own decisions–many of which impact their health! Keep reading as I share my insight for maintaining–and improving–your emotional, physical, and nutritional needs so that during your first year, the “freshman 15” is the last thing you’re worried about!

Taking Time to Manage Your Schedule

College is all about time management. If your schedule is like mine, you often have classes, clubs, or appointments back-to-back with just enough time in between to do…nothing. It can be difficult and frustrating to fit in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day if you think about it as a single block of time. But I want you to change your focus from meeting those traditional expectations and instead tailor a lifestyle that includes fitness that fits YOU.

If your schedule is already packed tight with little room for a full workout, there are small ways and simple habits to fit some much-needed exercise into your daily routine. For example:

  • Need to get to the second or third floor? Take the stairs.
  • Waiting in line? Do some calf raises.
  • Sitting at a desk doing homework? Get an exercise ball–it takes core strength to stay balanced.
  • Going to the grocery store? Park in the back of the lot to get extra steps in.
  • Always walk to your classes on campus instead of opting for the five-minute car drive.
  • Take a study break every 20-30 minutes to walk around outside or just stretch. We call this “procrasticising.”

Even if you have the time, there are many other ways to get your endorphins flowing besides going to the gym. Exercise can be fun! Paddle boarding, canoeing, biking with friends–all of these things will work your muscles and raise your heartrate. See if your school has an outdoor adventure club or any IM sports that sound fun to you and get involved!

A Purdue study even shows that students in college who work out and exercise more regularly perform better in their classes. Making friends and doing better in classes? That’s where it’s at, y’all.

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women exercising
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Staying Committed to Being Active

So far, I haven’t talked too much about the gym. A lot of campuses have facilities that are FREE to students. (You are gonna love that word once you get to college, believe me!). Sometimes you have the time and the means to workout at the gym, but you just don’t want to–even though you know it has all of these benefits! Here are some tips to push past that resistance and force yourself to do something that is good for you!

  • Schedule your exercise time into your planner or phone and treat it like a job. Find a friend or two who will exercise with you.
  • Find an exercise class you are interested in and works with your schedule, then pay for a whole month of classes in advance.
  • Sign up for something BIG like a half-marathon or a weight-lifting competition.
  • Start a log. Get a journal or a white board and write down how much weight you lifted or how many miles you ran. This gives you a way to visualize your progress and to have something tangible to show for those early morning workouts.
  • Put a post it note with encouraging words or your personal goals somewhere you will see every day to keep you focused and motivated.

Self-Love to Get You Through

The best thing you can do for your health though, is to show yourself compassion. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get around to working out or miss a day at the gym. Exercise is supposed to be something that makes you feel good and you enjoy doing. If you are dreading your workouts, spice things up! And give your body time to start reaping the benefits of daily exercise. Once you get over the initial barriers and exercise becomes a habit, you will start to want to get more and more active. I really hope you’ve gained insight from my series and make your health a priority in college.. and beyond. See you round! ~ Zoe

Fitness Resources

zoe smith

About the Author

Zoe Smith is a UCF student studying International and Global Studies and Nonprofit Management. She is entering her fourth year at the University this fall and has formerly served as a peer health advocate through UCF’s Wellness and Health Promotion Services in addition to interning with the Healthy West Orange team this past summer.

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