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How to Stay Fit After College

Are you prepared to stay fit after college? The average North American works more than 47 hours a week and sits for an average of 9.3 hours a day. Compare that to the five hours a day that students are sitting and the problem is clear: new grads moving into the workforce need to find ways to stay active.

By
Brock Armstrong,
Episode #436
College graduate jumping in the air

It's a challenge to stay fit after college. When I was in college, oh-so-many years ago, I was nearly the most physically active I have ever been. I had free access to a gym and a swimming pool, lunch hour haikedo and fencing classes, and played hockey in the evenings. I was regularly spotted dancing my face off to live music on the weekends. But when I graduated, with a diploma in Digital Arts and Media, I was almost immediately chained to my government-issued desk for 7.25 hours a day. Sure I was “raking in the dough,” but the only muscle I flexed regularly was my mouse finger. 

I envied my friends who had chosen outdoor professions or manual labor, but I also knew envy wasn’t going to solve my suddenly sedentary lifestyle. So, after complaining for a few months, I grabbed myself by the sports socks and took matters into my own hands.

Sure, I no longer had an awesomely equipped free gym to visit or unlimited access to a pool. My haikedo friends had gone their separate ways, and if I wanted to keep playing hockey, I would have had to start a team of my own. But that was no excuse to lose all the fitness, hand-eye coordination, agility, flexibility, mobility and general good health that I had accumulated while in college. So, after some wallowing and adjusting to this new life as a work-a-day-grumbler, I put a plan in action.

The Truth About Making Time to Exercise

The average North American works more than 47 hours a week and sits for an average of 9.3 hours a day. Compare that to the five hours a day that students are sitting and the problem is clear: new grads moving into the workforce need to find ways to stay active.

If you do an internet search for “how to make time for exercise,” you will be stunned by the number of articles written on the subject. If you take the time to read a bunch of those articles, as I did in preparation for writing this episode, you will also find that most of those articles say the same thing:

  • If you can’t find time to exercise, you are really saying that health and wellness is not a priority for you.

  • Nobody is too busy to exercise, it’s just a matter of priorities.

  • It’s not about having time to exercise, it’s about making time to exercise.

  • Someone busier than you is exercising right now.

Someone busier than you is exercising right now.

Over and over again, with subtle differences, fitness experts say the same thing—you need to make exercise a priority. The message is that there is no magic solution. Prioritizing fitness means making a plan and sticking to it.

As my colleague, Stever Robbins (aka Get-It-Done Guy) wrote in his article Making Time to Exercise: “You can’t delegate it … Make the gym top priority. Really, top priority. It goes on your schedule before any other commitments, even above work, family, and sleep. Only for the gravest emergencies do you cancel. I even shortened vacations so they wouldn’t interfere with my routine.” Does that seem like a bummer? Even if you think Stever's stance is a little overboard, we can agree that making time for fitness is a good thing.

Here’s the bonus: any movement that raises your heart rate relieves stress and boosts your confidence. Isn't that something you, my new college graduate, need most at this exciting and pivotal time in your life?

And here's another advantage. You're just breaking into the workforce, which can make it easier for you to build exercise into your workday habits right from the beginning. If you wait too long, you risk having to disrupt your routine when you suddenly realize that you can't climb more than a flight of stairs without getting winded or touch your toes without grunting and groaning. 

Figuring out how to build movement into your new work life can be a challenge, but all it takes is a little planning and habit forming. Let's talk about how to get started.

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