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Five Ways to Stay Active if You’re Not a Gym Buff

Staying active and healthy is vital during college years as students undergo various stressors. The stress of classes, making new friends and being away from family can result in an overall decrease in mental wellness. According to an article by the US National Library of Medicine National institute of health, 75% of individuals with mental illnesses experience its onset by the age of 25. Approximately 11.9% of college students suffer from a form of anxiety disorder while 7% to 9% suffer from depression, according to research by The National Library of Medicine. 


College students need to practice self care and for some, that translates into maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise has short term effects on boosting your mood and has also been proven to “alleviate depression,” according to an article by The American Psychology association. However, it can be difficult to focus on health and wellness in a time when school is at the forefront of your life. It can be especially challenging being a woman who does not enjoy the hectic, crowded gym atmosphere. It can be intimidating walking into a gym surrounded by gym jockeys, experienced athletes and confusing equipment. Here are five ways you can maintain an active lifestyle to help alleviate that college stress without the intimidation of the gym.

  1. Intramural or club sports

Intramural sports are a fun way to engage in physical activity while meeting new friends. If you enjoy playing sports and want to be more active, joining an intramural or club sports team may be a good option for you. If you need a more flexible sports team, intramural over club would be the way to go. You can have the experience of playing on a team and meeting new people while simultaneously staying active. 

If you take your athletics a bit more seriously, you may want to consider joining a club sports team. Club sports provide a team oriented atmosphere, allowing you to form new bonds over common sports interests while staying in athletic shape.

2. CHAARG

Another university-based athletic activity that is perfect for meeting new friends and experiencing empowering exercise is CHAARG. CHAARG, which stands for “changing health, attitudes+actions to recreate girls,” was founded in 2012 at The Ohio State University. The organization is now nationwide and aims to uplift women through physical activity and wellness tips. It is group oriented and surrounds you with other strong individuals who are looking to focus on wellness. 

“CHAARG is a wellness organization for people who feel underrepresented in the fitness community,” CHAARG President Julia Glasgow said.“It’s primarily for women but we are open to everyone, and it’s all about just helping people to find like what workouts work for them, and like to find what fits them best.”

 If you are interested in joining you can visit CHAARG.com and purchase a membership through the University of Maryland’s chapter. 

“We have tons of workouts every single week but we also focus a lot on like eating, as well as mental health, and it’s a very supportive group of individuals,” Glasgow said.

3. The Rock Wall at Eppley

The University of Maryland Eppley Recreation Center is not only an indoor gym. Behind the facility you can find a large rock climbing wall next to a smaller rock wall. The rockwall is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday. The walls are free to climb and accessible to all UMD students, but you must sign a waiver. 

Afraid of heights? There is a smaller wall for beginners that you can climb as well. This is a fun activity you can try that will surely have your arms sore the next day.

4. UMD Adventure Day Trips

The University of Maryland Recreation and Wellness department hosts day trips to various scenic locations throughout the fall semester. Some of the upcoming trips include canoeing the Monocacy river, climbing and camping Annapolis rocks, hiking Maryland heights, kayaking the ghost fleet of Mallows bay and caving and hiking West Virginia. All you have to do is register online at recwell.umd.edu for the fall 2021 adventure trips and pay the associated fee. You can enjoy a weekend getaway and make new friends while being active.

5. Fitness Classes

If you do want to try the gym but don’t know where to start, a gym class may be the perfect fit for you. UMD’s Eppley Recreation Center hosts numerous fitness classes throughout the semester — including cycling, yoga and Zumba. 

“It improved my mood, it was really hype and the instructor, she was really positive and she pushed us to do well,”  sophomore Sophia Nayden said. “My friend actually invited me to go so I’m really glad I went.”

Jennifer Gable is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland, College Park. She serves as a member of the social media committee for Her Campus Maryland. Writing, politics, photography, and mental health activism are her passions.
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