Just because you are busy with a new school year doesn’t mean you have to let your fitness go out the window. There are many ways to build exercise into your busy day, even without hitting the gym.
As you may know, I am crazy about encouraging everyone to make movement a big part of their daily lives. It’s not that I think going to the gym or training for a marathon is bad by any means, but living a generally active lifestyle will serve you much better throughout your life than will training really hard for a 10k and then sitting on the couch for the remainder of the day, week or year.
Exercise science has shown us again and again the positive power of regular physical activity in a person's life. Whether that leads to feeling better, having more energy, looking better, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, or having better focus - which are the things that I am pretty certain every student wants in their life - movement and exercise are amazing for every aspect of being a student. We’ll talk about how exercise directly affects the brain in a future episode but for now, let’s concentrate on how you can build your daily routine.
The problem is, of course, time. Most students take on too many activities every day. This can include classes, homework, research, studying, working, shopping, and perhaps even a little partying.
When the heck do you have time to exercise?
Is that what you think? Is that the narrative that plays in your head every time you look in the mirror? If it is, I am here to challenge you to break that belief down. I think you’re not tying hard enough. I think that you are not thinking outside of the (CrossFit) box.
We all have time to exercise. We all have time to get up and move our bodies everyday. The trick is to make it a priority and to build it into your day. If you simply can’t imagine that, I think you need to look at the amount of time you spend on Snapchat, watching Netflix, eating avocado toast and whatever else you millennials do. You owe it to your body and mind, not to mention your friends and family, to make exercise one of your top priorities. You both need to do it and deserve to do it.
We’ve been led to believe that in order to be physically active, get the ripped body that we want, or to whip our cardiovascular self into shape, we need to dedicate 45-90 minutes to going to the gym but some of the busiest and fittest people I know rarely step foot in a gym or exercise for longer than an hour a couple times a week. Another common belief that we have is thinking that low level activities like walking don’t count. That a ten minute workout isn’t long enough to make a difference. That we have to change into expensive workout gear for it to count as exercise. Well, that is rubbish.
Ways to Make Time
To help you get started or to help you dial-in your already existing routine a little further, here are some ways to make time for exercise — even when you don’t think you have time.
Let’s start the day off on an active note. After your alarm clock goes off, tuck your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your knees. Now, just rock slightly from side to side. This will wake up your spine and stretch your legs a bit. After doing this stretch for about 30 seconds, straighten your legs and move them from side to side (keeping your back on the mattress or futon). This will loosen your back and also engage your core. You can finish this quick routine with 10 to 15 crunches in bed. Great! You aren’t even out of bed yet and you have already primed yourself for a better movement day.
Another one for your morning routine (the time you spend in the house, apartment or dorm before you leave for class), every time you touch a doorknob do 10 squats. If you are like me, you touch about 6-8 doorknobs on average during your morning so before you even eat breakfast, you may have already done about 60 squats and that is more effective for waking you up than a cup of coffee!
During your drive to school or while you’re sitting on the bus or subway, do at least 5 sets of 15 ab flexes. This is where you squeeze your abdominal muscles as though you're trying to touch your ribs to your stomach, hold for a couple of seconds, then release. You can do this literally until you are red on the face.