College, a time of exploring yourself and making decisions and beginning habits that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Many of us worry that in enjoying a social life and studying for class that we will lose our ability to stay in shape. Entering freshman deal with many different challenges, and regarding fitness many men and women are for the first time not involved in a sports program. Regardless if you were an athlete in high school or not, fitness and nutrition are things that should be important to everyone in all walks of life. The most important reason college students should strongly consider beginning a fitness regimen is because the habits they start in college will be habits they carry with them once they graduate.
Now, before we go any further let me be clear that there is not one answer for everyone and each situation is unique; this article is meant to be a guideline or idea spark for you to examine your health. With this in mind, being on a college campus can make fitness and health a challenging thing to maintain. Depending on the college or university you attend, you most likely have some type of fitness center on or near campus, as well as a nice area to run or do sprints, and intramurals sports. The biggest challenge for many is not so much finding the place but the time or motivation to workout. So let me break down some basic steps you can take to work on your fitness:
- The first step to bettering your health is to take a look at what you are eating. Dieting is the main part of getting in shape, despite your goals, and with the way the internet is today you can find free information on good basic nutrition (Some places to look for nutrition articles are Runner’s World and Bodybuilding.com). Even if you do not want to count calories, making smart choices can have a resounding effect on your health.
- The second step to bettering your health is to discover ways for you to exercise that are enjoyable to you. There are so many ways to exercise that you should not be able to make an excuse of not being able to find a way to do so. While lifting weights has many health benefits, for some it is just not something that they want to do. Luckily with a sound diet, staying in a healthy weight range is possible without doing so. Look into running, playing an intramural sport, or get a friend to go out and play a sport with you (i.e. soccer, football, basketball, etc.)
- Finally, do not set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals or picking a schedule that does not work for you or your personality. For example, if you do not enjoy waking up early do not make a schedule where you workout at six a.m. Much like how saving money cannot start once you have a surplus income, you have to design a program that works with your schedule and not wait for your schedule to “open” up for your program.
From personal experience, I am a very motivated individual in that I can take a full class load and workout six times a week. I have found ways to navigate arond class and save time so that I can enjoy many different aspects of college. Personally getting into a routine has been the most benefitial way of sticking with a program. I lift kettlebells (Russian weights similar to dumbbells) in my room two to three times per week that cuts down on gas, saves time driving, and saves on gym membership after a few months. In addition, I run three times a week, sometimes supplementing morning sprints into my routine. Now I realize that to some this might seem like an extreme schedule, but for me exercise is a high priority and being active is a part of my life. However, exercise is different in everyones lives, I also enjoy sports a lot and play on campus whenever I get the chance. So look for something you enjoy to do and go out and do it, as long as you are exercising in some form you will help keep your muscle mass up which in turn keeps your metabolism up, keeping the weight off.