Physical activity is an important aspect of our everyday life. Studies continue to show that daily physical activity not only reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases, but it also reduces our risk of anxiety and depression; (Blair & Morris, 2009). However, as university students, life is already busy for us because we have to attend classes, study, and even work almost everyday of the week. As a result, finding time for physical activity can be challenging.
Here are 7 ways you can increase your daily physical activity as a university student:
1- Go for a walk 3-4 times a week for about 15-20 minutes. Going for a walk can help you clear your mind and enjoy the world around you. You would be surprised at how many things you will notice around you that you have never noticed before when walking. You can walk in the morning before school/work if you are a morning person. If not, try walking around campus between your classes or during your lunchtime. Installing an app on your phone that can track your steps can be a great motivator. My personal favourite is an app called “Step Tracker – Pedometer” by Leap Fitness Group. This app is free, and I use it to track my steps and set a new goal for myself almost everyday.
2- Choose to take the stairs instead of taking the elevator whenever you can. You would be surprised at how beneficial it is for your legs and overall body. Your efforts will quickly add up when you have multiple classes a day and they are all on the 2rd floor and up. You might even find yourself feeling as if you took a jog. You will notice improved breathing as you climb more stairs everyday. Give it a try!
3- Exercise while brushing your teeth! You probably spend about 2-3 minutes standing at the sink brushing your teeth and flossing every day. Instead of standing, try to squat, or even do lunges. You can even listen to music to add extra fun to your morning or night routine.
4- Whenever possible, try to bike instead of driving — especially since spring is just around the corner. Biking is not only good for your physical health, but it is also great for the environment. If you do not know how to bike, then park your car as far away from your destination as you possibly can and walk instead. If you use the bus, then try to get off one stop early and walk to your destination.
5- Find someone to go to the gym with. This can be a friend, a partner, or even a family member. Having support from others can help you feel more motivated to achieve your fitness goal. It also makes it easier to try new workouts and improve your form. In addition, it can add that healthy sense of competition and can increase your motivation to get better at working out. Not to mention how fun it can be to spend more time with your loved ones while working out, and it can even strengthen a relationship.
6- If you cannot afford a gym membership, workout at home. There are plenty of free home workout apps that use no equipment. You could start small, for example, no more than 3-4 times a week for about 10-20 minutes. My personal favourite is “30 Day Fitness Challenge” by Leap Fitness Group. This app works with your daily schedule and fitness level and increases the intensity of the workouts as you move along. You can also try an app called “FitOn” by FitOn. This app has multiple styles of working out such as HIIT, Yoga, Flight Dance, and even stretches.
7- Try Yoga at home. Yoga can increase your flexibility and improve your breathing without intense physical activity. You can do this once a week to start, and then increase it as you move along. Try “Yoga Daily Fitness” app by SEStudio or watch “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube. I would recommend doing a 30-day yoga challenge for beginners with Adriene on YouTube if you are unfamiliar or new to yoga.
Try at least one of the 7 suggestions above and notice the difference it brings to your life. You will not only feel better about your physical and mental health, but you will also feel more confident in your physical ability. Do this for you because you deserve to be physically and mentally healthy and fit.