It’s been incredibly tough staying healthy over the past couple of years…for obvious reasons. We’ve spent lots of time indoors, in front of screens, and maybe not moving as much as we’re used to. Stress also often leads us to make some food choices that are…not always great. (Potato chips count as a vegetable, right? 😉)
But a new term can be the perfect opportunity for a fresh start – and the chance to get healthy! It’s true that starting a fitness program can be a bit overwhelming, especially for those of us who maybe didn’t love phys ed as much as other classes. Sometimes it’s really challenging knowing how to even create this kind of program. How many reps/sets/minutes? What about the equipment? What about a meal plan?? It can all be a lot to think about.
Relax – we’ve got you covered. Check out these tips which will get you on the road to your best life: 😊
Find your passion
This is KEY. If you hate running, why would you start a running program?? Don’t be swayed by current trends. Just do you. If you love biking, start with that; if you’ve always liked swimming, find a public pool that’s open and get in there for the lane-swim times. If you really love doing something, chances are much better that you’ll actually stick with it. And this doesn’t have to be a ‘sport’, either. If you love to dance, load up your best playlist, clear some space, and start sweating. If you love what you do, you’ll keep on doing what you love. <3
One of the top things that physiotherapists say is that starting off an exercise program hard & fast is the worst thing you can possibly do, especially if you’re not used to regular exercise. It can get you injured really quickly, which will set you back even further and make you even more discouraged. So: start slow! If your goal is ultimately to run a 5K, start by walking several days/times a week and gradually increase your distance. If you want to bench your body weight, start light and gradually increase your weight & reps. You wouldn’t get off your couch and expect to run a marathon – and getting healthy is definitely a marathon, not a sprint!
Try new things
Ever wondered what parkour was like? Or maybe swing-dancing? Now’s the perfect time to find your new favourite activity! Check out local online message boards for your neighbourhood to find free meet-ups where folks get together and share their love of hiking/biking/whatever. Your uni/college, friendship centre, community centre, or YMCA will probably have free ‘intro’ classes that you can join to try things out (and you don’t have to commit if you don’t want to). You might just find your new passion! But don’t forget…
Don’t spend too much $$$
Especially when you’re starting out, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on special gear to be successful. When and if you really become passionate about something and are pursuing it multiple days per week, you can lay out a bit of extra cash for new gear. At the beginning, keep it simple: supportive shoes, clothing that you can sweat in, water to keep you hydrated, and an indoor or outdoor space that’s clear of hazards. That’s it. 😊 Our Rivers to Success program has great tips for staying active at home – you can check them out here! https://www.mentorcity.com/en/organizations/670/courses/40/chapters/112/pages
You’re probably rolling your eyes while reading this…but keep reading! Good sleep is one of THE most important things you can do for yourself and your overall physical & mental well-being. We know it’s hard, especially during exam/essay/project crunch times, and we get it: there will be all-nighters. But try not to make them a habit! When you start an exercise program, getting your quality 8-ish hours will really bring you better results. Your body will be rested enough to get you where you want to go, and you won’t have brain fog. Even better: your new exercise program will actually make it easier to get to sleep and STAY asleep! It’s a win/win.
Move a bit every day
You do NOT have to work out every day when you’re starting a new program. In fact, you probably shouldn’t! (Remember that earlier point about starting slowly?) But you should try to find ways to fit more movement into each day. If you know you’re going to be spending three hours in a night class, try going for an afternoon walk. It’ll boost your concentration and make you feel better. Make sure you stand up and take regular stretch breaks every hour, too!
Find apps or programs to help
There are tons of apps out there that will not only help you get started with a fitness program, but also help you keep it going. Just be careful about where your data’s going – you don’t want personal health info to wind up somewhere that you never intended, or to get spammed because an app sold your data! You can also check out “Intro to [Sport]” programs at your uni/college. They’re often free – and a great chance to meet people with the same interests.
Healthy eating matters
You’re probably rolling your eyes at this tip, too…but it’s important! Again, we get it: eating well on a student budget is challenging. (We’ve eaten lots of ramen too.) 😉 But you’re worth it. Even if it’s only for one meal per day, try to create something healthy. Whether you’re on a residence meal plan or shopping for yourself, try to choose lots of high-protein, low-sugar options along with lots of vegetables in a way that won’t bust your budget. Want a traditional take on your menus? Check out this video about eating traditional foods to stay healthy!
Happy working out! We hope you have fun on this amazing new journey. Want to chat with other folks who are doing the same thing (or check out our own fitness series)? Join us here!