For most students, university is the last chance to prepare before adulthood, responsibilities and real life hit you like a train. The importance of fitness in becoming the best version of you is crucial. If you got out of shape when you turned five and never really got back on track, I’m here to help. Here are some reasons to get fit, in case you needed convincing:
There are numerous studies proving the psychological benefits of physical activity. Be it a walk, gym session or team sports, you are guaranteed to clear your head, increase your endorphin levels, have a sense of accomplishment and improve your mood. Exercise is perfect for calming a stressed or hyperactive mind, giving you a good night's sleep. It’s a great, healthy and cheap way to relieve stress and get distracted from bad habits and addictions that you might want to quit. Common student stress relief alternatives are alcohol, drugs and one night stands but they’re not as good as they sound! You might feel cool for a bit, but a constant cycle of drinking and doing things you regret won’t take you anywhere. Most likely, it will drag you down and you’ll have even more issues to deal with. The choice is yours, but keep in mind that it’s better to be active, healthy, and (mostly) sober.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, type two diabetes, and lung, breast and endometrial cancers; it strengthens your muscles and bones, boosts your metabolism, helps control weight, detoxes your body through sweat, lowers blood pressure and helps have better skin; it even makes you happier, by releasing good chemicals in your body such as dopamine – a chemical released during pleasure. Speaking of which, you can bet that stronger legs, glutes, arms and better cardiovascular endurance and flexibility will improve your sex life.
Exercise and appearance
Fitness is NOT about being a ripped and chiseled, tanned-juiced-fitness-single-digit-body-fat-percent type of person. This is NOT about the unrealistic, fake and dumb beauty standards imposed by media and the fitness industry. It is about you becoming the best version of yourself, feeling great in a healthy body, and being able to face day-to-day challenges, work a full time job and have a healthy relationship with the people around you, every single day, for the rest of your life. Looks is what drives most people to the gym, yes, and exercising is often the key to a good physique. However that is often the least significant of the benefits. Trust me, you simply need to get into the habit of being active and pass the stage of constant sore muscles, junk food cravings, and getting used to your new lifestyle. After that, what scales, measuring tapes and even mirrors show won’t really affect you, because you’re going to feel stronger, faster and healthier.
Getting in shape comes through knowledge, long term motivation and constant work. Sticking to your workouts teaches self-discipline and time management. Don’t know how to cook healthy, low fat, interesting, tasty veggie dish? It’s about time you learn. If you are currently living off ready meals and pre-packaged snacks, is this what you are going to cook for your beloved or child 15 years down the line? Do you know what health actually feels like and how much saturated fat you ate today? Getting in shape and doing all the research, cooking and exercise will give you that information. It’s best to acquire it now, while you are in university, developing your future self. Are you a couch potato because you are afraid of not being athletic enough to fit in at the gym? If yes, I guarantee you, the gym is not the only place you think you don’t fit in. The comfort zone is where dreams go die, so get out of it! The sooner you start, the sooner you will achieve your goals. Just imagine if you had started going to the gym this time last year…
Think about the state that you want to leave university in. If you struggle with going up stairs or carrying shopping bags, would you really manage the dynamic and eventful life you deserve? Don’t sentence yourself to be a prisoner of a body you hate, susceptible to illness and misery. It is exactly because you have one body that you should take great care of it and fuel it with all the right foods. Leave hypocrisy and body acceptance aside. Be honest with yourself and take control, starting now.
The best advice I can give you is to just get started. Join a gym, a team, whatever, start small. Compare yourself to no one but how you were, create S.M.A.R.T. goals and if you fall of the wagon, get back on track as soon as you can. Everybody has days when they don’t feel like doing anything and it’s alright as long as you stay true to what you want. Go for a low fat diet, full of greens, fruits, veggies, grains and nuts. Don’t even think about smoking, purging or drugs. Stay natural - gladiators didn’t drink protein shakes or take any supplements. Avoid processed red meats, the WHO (the World Health Organisation, not the band) has recently put them in the same category as cigarettes, relating them to increased cancer risk. Focus on your health and performance, rather than looks, as the visible results are one of the last things to come. Because if you don’t start now, when are you going to?
You reached the end of the article. Reward yourself with three sets of 50 sit-ups and 20 squats*.
*To warm up