With one final week to go until I am back in Loughborough, the excitement is starting to set in. I’m now (almost) packed, have paid my returning fees, purchased a platinum card which allows me free entry into my favourite nights out and have started making my way through my extensive reading list! In the last few days I’ve also made a massive decision about university but I’m afraid that will have to wait until next week at least!
Once again I have penned a new article for Society 19. In the last fortnight I gained an interesting insight into the publishing industry with the publication of my latest article. As you will know I published a link to my previous article about What to pack for university here on my blog. I later found out that the entire premise of the article had be changed and completely re written to suit a different brief. So you can still read the original from the link above, but I was quite upset that my name had been attached to new words that were not my own. Though I do suppose that is the nature of publication.
UPDATE!! Follow this link to the published article! How to Stay Fit and Healthy at University
So here is my latest article about staying fit and healthy at university. I find it slightly hypocritical when I remember the nights I spent in bed with pizza and a film during my first year, but I did make some attempt to stay healthy at points (I promise mum!)
Ten Clever Tips for staying Fit and Healthy at University
Being healthy is described as having a good physical, mental and social wellbeing. During the first few weeks at university your healthy lifestyle can go out of the window as you rebel against all the rules that were set at home. Eventually though, the novelty will wear off and you may start to feel a little bit worse for wear! Here are 10 clever tips for staying fit and healthy at university without compromising on your new lifestyle
Probably the easiest way to stay fit at university is from the amount of walking you’ll have to do. Whether you’re at a campus university or in a city, the likelihood of your halls of residence, lectures and shops being directly next to each other is minimal. Some days the temptation of not leaving your flat can be very strong, but find excuses to get out and about; walk to the library, go into town or go to a friend’s flat or house. Another solution is to bring your bike to university which will help you get around with ease as well as the added health benefits!
I found my first year room very claustrophobic and certainly had an impact on my mood. Getting outside and doing things helped with my physical and mental health. Some of my friends had the same idea and bought themselves FITBIT’s to count their daily steps. This forced them to walk around to hit their daily targets also improved their fitness at the same time.
Join a Gym
One of the best ways to keep up your levels of fitness is to join the university gym. Every campus is likely to have one, offering different deals on membership for students. If you’re at a city university you’re likely to encounter a few more so get information and weigh up the best deals for you.
Joining a gym can give you access to more facilities than merely treadmills. If you prefer machine cardio exercise you will obviously be able to work out on the basic cross trainers, bikes, rowing machines and terrifying looking weight machines. However, your uni gym will probably run a number of fitness classes throughout the week. These target a variety of interests from spin classes, Zumba and combat to Pilates and yoga. Membership may also give you access to the local or university swimming pool. These give you a variety of different fun ways to exercise so it doesn’t feel like a chore, and you’re likely to make friends doing them!
Another clever tip would be to get yourself a gym buddy. This is someone who can drag you to the gym when you really don’t feel like it and also helps you build relationships at the same time as working out! Physical, mental and social health boost!
Try Something New
Everywhere you look in your final year at sixth form or college you will see university propaganda telling you it’s the best place to try something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
The same is true of your fitness. The best attitude to have is “why the hell not?” and try different things. One of my best friends, Shannon, decided she was going to go down to the rugby try outs in her first week, just to try it. She’d never played a professional game of rugby in her life before! However, she got into the official university women’s squad and has loved it the entire year! She’s played in each inter-university team game and they won every single one; plus the multitude of socials and initiations she’s been part of have given her so many different friends and events to go to. She loves it and has already gone back to start training for this year!
Of course it doesn’t have to be anything as drastic (or terrifying) as this. Alongside Shannon, I have another friend Annabel who is a national gymnast and trampolinist so is always at training (expected at Loughborough I suppose). Last year I decided to start running and after the initial embarrassment and pain of not being able to run very far, I now run comfortable a few times a week. My friends supported me through this and it gave me a fantastic buzz every time I went that bit further. I never thought I could do this but as I said: “why the hell not?”
Drink plenty of water
Keeping yourself hydrated through a day can be the last thing you think about whilst you’re rushing around working and exploring. To keep yourself healthy and from getting dehydrated experts recommend we should drink 2 litres of water a day.
The most effective way of doing this is to buy a 1 litre glass water bottle and start by trying to drink it all throughout the day. Once you can do this, refill it once in the day so you are drinking the recommended 2 litres. If you find drinking so much water tastes too bland you can also add a slice of lemon or lime to the bottle to give more flavour. A reusable glass water bottle also saves money you on continually buying and throwing away plastic water bottles.
With all the excitement going on it’s easy to forget the real reason you signed up for these three to four years. In the first few weeks when the workload is scarce it can be easy to be lured into a false sense of security. When the workload ramps up it’s a good idea to make yourself a work timetable. Personally, I am more productive when I work in short bursts and then have a 10 minute break to check Facebook. The stress you could cause yourself by leaving your work to the last moment or being unorganised will be really unhealthy to your mind and body.
Of course this only works if you’re not a massive procrastinator (like myself). I find myself getting easily distracted and, as a result, left work too late and spent until 2am in the library in deadlines week before a short nap and coming back at 8am.
Social media can be a massive distraction so I would recommend downloading apps and programmes such as ColdTurkey.com which temporarily blocks selected sites for a time, meaning there are no distractions or reasons not to finish your work!
Bulk prepare your food
Being organised with your food can help you stay healthy and also save money at the same time. There are a number of student cookbooks that can help out with this – the best one I can recommend would be from the BBC Good Food series ‘101 easy student dinners.’
For example, you can prepare a 4-serving pot of spaghetti bolognese one night and freeze the remaining servings in Tupperware containers. These can then be reheated (always check guidelines on reheating food, don’t go reheating chicken!!) and eaten over the next few days! This helps you save money, stay healthy and reuse any leftover food you may have. Pre preparing your food in advance can also save you time and stop you buying unhealthy snacks to refuel.
Get enough sleep
You can find yourself getting into quite an irregular sleeping pattern at university. From all-nighters in the library; rolling into bed at 3am from the club only to drag yourself back out for a 9am or staying up for ‘just one more episode’ you can start to deteriorate into a zombie after a while.
Although someone telling you to get more sleep can sound a little bit like your mum nagging at you (and after all isn’t that one of the perks of being away at uni?!) it is important for your physical and mental health that you do at least get a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis. Otherwise you’ll find that you’re unable to be your most productive and things you enjoy doing will suffer. Aim for at least 8 hours a night – you’ll feel mentally refreshed, healthier and happier.
Join a society
As well as your physical and mental wellbeing, it is important to have a good social wellbeing too. As well as the friends you will make from your halls and your course, I would recommend joining a society. Whatever you’re interests this is a place you will immediately have something in common with others which will help you settle in with ease.
The society I joined has been fantastic for my social wellbeing, we meet up three or four times a week for rehearsals, go out to the pubs in evenings or club nights on a Tuesday. People suggest events we could go to and we all go as a group. It’s such a nice feeling knowing you have a sort of family within university with people with all different interests. It’s opened up so many doors for me and has helped me out on several occasions with the inevitable loneliness of university.
University can be a stressful time. That’s a bit of an understatement if I’m honest! Stress can be the thing that impacts on your mental health the most and if not managed correctly can lead to a serious burn out and making yourself ill. By this time in life you will know the ways that you work most effectively and can utilise this. For example, if I am stressing over my workload I make myself a list of everything I need to do and split things down into manageable sections. Seeing it all written down often makes things clearer to me – usually I’m stressing about more than I originally thought!
The best way to manage stress I’ve found is to tackle it head on: for me I apply the two simple steps of set a goal and then work towards completing it.
Have a balance in your life
My final tip would be to have some sort of balance in your life. This can be between work, socialising, friends and family from home, and going out or staying in for some time alone. Basically do whatever makes you happy, you don’t have to conform to any sort of social pressure to what you think you should be like at university. Drink too much, have a hangover and then have a sober night with a film and pizza. Stay in touch with your family and hometown friends to stay grounded and to maintain friendships but don’t neglect the relationships you’ll make at university. There’s a line between holding on to new friends and holding back from new ones. Find the balance that makes you happiest! This will make you healthier in turn!!
Do you have any other tips about staying fit and healthy? Maybe you’re at university and have a regime that helps you balance work and play? Either way let me know in the comments below whether you enjoyed this post or not and what you’d like to see more of in the future. I always love hearing from you!! Hopefully my next Friday post will be from Loughborough!!!