Last week, I conducted a thorough interrogation friendly interview of four first-year students who’ve managed to make time for physical activity alongside academics. I noticed that all four of them had stuff in common, stuff that could potentially help anyone who resolved to start exercising (New Year’s is only two months off, you could always get a head start) make a plan and stick with it.
First, they all picked activities they enjoyed doing, whether it was volleyball, dance, taekwondo or Zumba. In other words, it helps if it doesn’t feel like exercise- that is, it doesn’t feel effortful, difficult or unpleasant. (The three words that most aptly describe PE in grade school.) Except that if you’re just starting to get active, almost everything feels that way.
This sucks, there’s no getting around it.
But it might be worthwhile to explore a few different options, and see if there isn’t anything that feels slightly more enjoyable than the rest: MoveU has a themed ice skating event every two months or so. (Though if you’re skating for the first time, it might be wiser to go to the Varsity Centre’s drop-in skating, as the MoveU events are typically super busy and you only get a 20 minute slot to skate. On the other hand, skate rentals are free at the MoveU events, and you pay $3 if you drop in.) KPE has drop-in events for every sport under the sun, should you want to play and do not yet have friends who share your newfound enthusiasm for physical activity. But if sports are too close to actual exercise to be fun, I highly recommend trying out the weird. Oddity lurks everywhere, and it’s always interesting to investigate: Hip Hop Yoga at Hart House, for instance, or Aquafit, which is basically underwater tai chi. (If you don’t know what tai chi is, go make friends with someone over the age of sixty.)
Even if it’s not mind-blowingly fun the very first time, it might be worth sticking around: the more you do it, the better you’ll get, and it’s always satisfying to witness an improvement. Any type of exercise can also be made more fun by doing it with people whose company you enjoy, or listening to good music while you do it.
Still, it’s easy to forget about your health when academics become all-consuming, the way they so often do. It helps to set a routine: the same time, on the same days every week. When it becomes a fixed commitment, it gets done, and it becomes habitual. Olivia, Hsin-Ning and Ziyan (from the interview) all had structured activities. Talking to them, I realized that although I feel like I’m pretty active (at least on weekends), my physical activity is not as regular than I’d like. Whether it’s a drop-in class, or through a club (search for fitness-related ones under Arts/ Athletics and Recreation), it’s easiest when all you have to do is show up.