This year, I will get to the gym more.
I’ll confess, that was last year’s resolution too. But I was teaching in the UK and traveling most weekends, so it was hard to get into a routine. Well, that’s my excuse. Yes, 2011 WILL be the year I get fit.
Gyms are always PACKED in January with those of us trying to stick to tour resolutions and sweat off holidays sweets (OMG- I have no self-control when it comes to shortbread or those chocolate oranges). And then we trickle off. Too tired. Too busy. It conflicts with our dates with “The Bachelor.” Yes, our excuses are endless.
So, how can we avoid becoming just another “January gym-goer?” How can we turn our resolutions to get healthy into regular habits?
Matty Kwan, a PhD student in the Faculty of Physical and Health Education, had some advice to offer. He researches why university students tend to be less physically active than they were in high school. He shared a few tips on how we can make physical activity part of our busy student lifestyles.
Action Plan. Kwan encourages us to “establish a routine and make it a priority.” He also reminded me that many students often skip physical activity for schoolwork. But, in fact, being physically active has been shown to help students succeed by improving our concentration, memory and sleep habits. It also reduces our stress and anxiety. So, making an action plan to get fit will also help us get better grades.
Be specific. According to Kwan, “routines need to be structured and specific.” Instead of telling ourselves “I’m going to the gym this week,” we need an action plan like, “on Monday from 6:10-6:55pm, I’m going to Mylene’s Zumba class in the field house at the Athletic Centre” or “on Tuesday, I’m going swimming at 12:10 in the 50m pool at the Athletic Centre for 20 minutes.” We need to write these into our weekly schedules, the same way we prioritize our academic classes.
Key Reminders. Little things like putting a yoga mat next to your school bag before you go to bed if you’ve planned to do a morning yoga class, putting a drop-in fitness schedule on your fridge with the classes you want to go to circled, or setting an alarm on your watch 30 min before you were planning on heading to the gym to lift weights, are simple strategies to keep you on track with your goals.
Enjoy physical activity. Really? Is this possible? According to Kwan, one of the main reasons that students stop doing physical activity in university is that they tend to play less sports and do more exercise. They stop doing the activities they liked to do in high school. When you are on a team, and have committed to practices and games, you stick with it to avoid “letting the team down.” But, it is much easier to put off exercise. A few ways to get involved in campus sports are:
Intramurals: This term’s sports include basketball, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, lacrosse, inner-tube waterpolo, field hockey, and hockey. Contact your faculty or college intramural rep to join a team!
Drop-In Recreational Sports: At the Athletic Centre, you can play recreational sports like basketball, volleyball, tennis, and badminton. You don’t need to register- just show up and have fun!
Registered Programs: Sign up for activities like yoga, spinning, ballet, and hip hop, karate, fencing, and skating. Last term, I did Tae Kwon DO and it was definitely worth the 60 bucks. Each class, I got a great work-out, met new people, had fun, and learned new skills. AND, I think that forking over a bit of cash helped me stay committed to it.
Regardless of what physical activities you choose, whether it’s sport, fitness classes, lifting weights at the gym, or a nice walk in the park, make sure it’s something you enjoy! You ARE doing these things during your limited free time! And, sadly, readers, simply having a resolution is not enough. You need some serious action planning!! Like Cynthia advised, ““C’MON. GOOO. STOP MAKING EXCUSES! YOU CAN DO ITTTTTT!”