Staying physically fit is a challenge for most individuals, so it is no surprise that college students find themselves battling the question of how to stay (or become) fit in college too.
Thinking about the challenges students face conjures up images of late nights studying, inconsistent schedules, time out with friends, cafeterias that are essentially all you can eat buffets every day of the week, all lumped in with a new level of independence, and, at times, hefty amounts of stress. There is good news though, for just as many challenges there may be to staying fit there are equal opportunities for developing and maintaining fitness. Taking advantage of these opportunities will also help you manage those hefty amounts of stress in a healthy way.
While it varies by location, start with this list to familiarize yourself with what the opportunities may be for fitness. As you explore the different ways there are a few key things to remember.
First and foremost, find something you love to do. You don’t have to run on a treadmill like a hamster on a wheel, or jump on board with the newest fitness craze. Second, set SMART goals. Making goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound that start with small steps that turn into leaps over time will help you stay motivated. Third, share your goals with someone and celebrate your successes together. Whether it is a roommate, friend, parent, or someone else sharing your goals will help you stay motivated, accountable, and make celebrating your successes more fun. Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach a goal or there are times where fitness falls to the wayside throughout your time at college. Life happens sometimes and sometimes it is healthy to take a break. Acknowledge this, take some time, remind yourself of the benefits of fitness such as helping manage stress, and then start small again with the things you love.
Creative Ideas are Within Your Reach
- Explore the outdoors. Most colleges have ample opportunities on or close to campus for being active outside biking, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, and more. Some even have equipment you can check out for free.
- Join a club sport or fitness related student organization. From ballroom dancing to skijoring to rugby and everything in-between students are gathering to do things they love together.
- Take advantage of the facilities on campus. Nearly every campus has free fitness centers, gyms, racquetball courts, pools, and other spaces for students to use that would cost you a monthly membership elsewhere. Their staff will even help you get started and feel comfortable using the space and equipment.
- Sign up for intramurals and other recreational activities. Getting a team together will help you boost your social well-being while getting some physical activity.
Maximize the time between getting place to place. You will likely have multiple things a day that you are going from place to place for, whether it be class to class, work to getting some groceries downtown, or your residence hall to the coffee shop for studying. Resist the temptation to drive or hop on the bus if you have enough time bike or walk. Building in these little bouts of fitness makes a big difference throughout your day.