I was always an active person. From competitive gymnastics to recreational sports in school to dancing as a hobby, I always found myself doing some sort of physical activity. Quarantine gave me the chance to branch out in fitness; for six months I had a consistent exercise routine. Then September hit and my fitness schedule went out the window.
I tried hard to have some consistency with exercise. I planned what days worked best according to my lecture times, I blocked out time for fitness on weekends, and I tried virtual fitness classes yet I continued to feel I was falling more behind in my classes than I already was. Eventually, I decided to pull the plug on exercise, thinking that physical activity would be one less worry for me. Without exercise I was going to have more time for school, right? Yes. But also, no.
My first pandemic semester was a wreck. Deadlines were at my throat as I battled with motivation that slipped off any chance I had regained it. I had a reduced course load and sacrificed my favourite hobbies to focus on school. I was still struggling. Oddly, when I took summer courses a few months back and I was still exercising. The workload was stressful for that spring term yet it felt more manageable than my regular fall courses. Why? I’m sure exercise wasn’t the answer-to-all-problems. But it had me thinking; why did I decide that exercise was what I didn’t have time for?
In those six months of regular exercise, fitness, to me, was part of the management of my health. We need to eat, we need to sleep, and we need to move. The YouTuber and professional bodybuilder Greg Doucette says “Exercise is a reward, not a punishment.” Sleeping and eating are a reward among many, so why is physical activity often seen as a punishment?
“What is your life worth?” When I searched for quick 10-minute HIIT workouts, Greg Doucette demanded if 10 minutes was all I could invest in my health? That hit me differently.
Whether I was crammed with work, overwhelmed by deadlines, or regretting my decisions I can’t think of one time where exercise had set me back. On the contrary, when I “quit” exercise I didn’t get more work done, I had more time to wallow in my stress and then I would lose motivation because I didn’t want to experience the pain of that stress again. For all I know, exercise could have rejuvenated me to face the paper I didn’t want to do.
It’s okay to lose track once in a while. But even in moments when you don’t have time to breath, it’s best to reconsider what best served you before deciding to halt it in the name of productivity.