Getting fit can seem like pure torture for just about everyone. Sure, you’re young and energetic but working out still feels like throwing up after climbing three flights of stairs.
On the other hand, we’ve all seen those senior citizens who seem frail but can deadlift in a snap, which is totally inspiring and depressing at the same time. After all, if they can do it, we can do it, too, right? Of course, even the best-laid plans of mice and men go astray. After a day of going to the gym and eating clean, you feel as though you couldn’t possibly go through the same hell again for the rest of the week. What gives?
In a recent poll from Indiana University on the Whatsgoodly app, 59% of users agreed that eating healthy is the most important part of losing weight, and 34% voted for exercising regularly. These two things are actually the most difficult yet the most crucial components of trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Then again, what’s easier? Getting fast food or cooking up a healthy meal while you’re busy cramming during finals? Running a mile after pulling an all-nighter and attending class, or holing up inside your room and letting your bed swallow you whole?
These are the real-life dilemmas that college students face everyday, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg! Read on and find out how you can overcome 10 issues that may be standing in the way of your exercise routine.
College is that phase in everyone’s lives when they think they have all the time and energy in the world– until they realize that classes and other extra-curricular activities will seriously suck the life out of them.
After a long day, the last thing you’d want to do is to tire yourself out further and use your spare time by doing cardio or lifting weights.
But you actually don’t have to workout every day to get the results you want. If you’re happy with your weight, you only need to get moderate aerobic activity for about 30 minutes, 5 days a week. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you only need 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity to stay fit, in addition to a bit of weight training.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll indeed need to get more physical activity. For those looking to shed more pounds, the Mayo Clinic recommends about 300 minutes a week of aerobic activity. But really, just try to get as much physical activity as you can. If you need to take a few 15-minute brisk walks rather than one giant hour walk:
- Go for it.
- Keep your heart pumping by getting in as much activity as you can.
- Don’t let the idea of your lack of time stand in your way.
So, you’ve done well with classes during the week, and now that the weekend has arrived, you’re just itching to chug beer and down shots until the sun comes up. You’re treating yourself, but you know you’ll have hell to pay the next morning. Karma will inevitably appear in the form of a hangover, which will throw you off for a day or two because you’ll be bedridden until it subsides. And that’s not even the worst of it.
According to Women’s Health, by drinking alcohol, your body will end up prioritizing the metabolization of the alcohol rather than burning fat. Your body is going to break the alcohol down and store it as fat.
Some of the fittest people in the world will tell you that alcohol is bad, and hello– it’s the reason why beer bellies exist and will likely never go extinct. Practice moderation, you may be young, but that’s not a reason to go #YOLO and drink a whole bottle of Jack at that frat party.
Oh, sleep. Does it really exist in college? Having 8 hours of sleep is just irresponsible when you have to cram for exams and have a ton of papers that are due in a few hours. Sleeping is important, and well, it just feels damn good.
According to the Mayo Clinic, recent studies suggest that sleeping less than 5 hours or more than 9 hours can actually increase your likelihood of weight gain. They don’t say to aim for 8 hours of sleep for no reason. Go for the 7-8 range. No more, no less.
If you can’t imagine yourself waking up earlier than you should just to work out, then don’t do it. But make sure you sneak in a quick run after your classes or after work. You’ll realize that exercising and eating better will actually help you feel more energized, and honestly, lack of sleep just slows down your metabolism, dude.
Fresh produce and a gym membership may seem like unnecessary expenses now, but they’ll pay off in the long run.
If you’re trying to save money, take advantage of your university’s fitness center. And if you’re really dead broke, go for a run. Runs are free.
If you do have a little extra money to spend, it may actually pay off to invest in some good workout clothes or shoes. If you feel comfortable at the gym, you may be more likely to work out. Know yourself and spend your money in a way that will best benefit your own personal health goals.
5. Junk food
Letting go of pizza and burgers seems like blasphemy. So, if you want to continue to indulge in greasy delights, you’ll need to up your cardio game.
Here’s some useful advice from a couple fellow Whatsgoodly users:
According to the second user, you could probably eat a nice delicious donut every so often as long as you keep up your exercise routine. Otherwise, you’ll have to forego the donuts. Who wants to forego donuts?
It’s true that some people do “dirty bulking,” where they eat all the junk food that they could so they can meet their required calorie intake for the day. It’s the opposite of clean eating, and it’s used to gain muscle quickly. It sounds so tempting, right? Well, only try it if you have the same dedication and control as them when it comes to bodybuilding.
This isn’t just about soda; it also includes energy drinks, flavored milk, and fruit juices that come in plastic bottles/cartons. They’re practically just sugar added to water and a bunch of preservatives.
In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health claims that “If you were to drink just one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 5 pounds in a year.”
If you really can’t stand the thought of just drinking something as “boring” as water, then try adding some fresh fruit to your water for a quick infusion. A little lemon and mint can spice up any bottle of water, and it looks pretty posh to boot.
If you’re a smoker, you’ve definitely heard the argument that smoking causes cancer. But did you know that smoking can also contribute to overall poor health? If physical fitness is a concern of yours, it might be time to quit.
In the study Smoking, Exercise and Physical Fitness, researchers Conway and Cronan found smoking to be related to “…lower exercise levels and lower physical endurance–both cardiorespiratory (1.5-mile run) and muscular (sit-ups).”
It’s not easy to quit smoking cold turkey, but luckily there are plenty of options in today’s era. Also, do you know what’ll help you keep your mind off of nicotine? Exercise.
Alright, you have nothing to do. No papers due, no more classes, and it’s your day off. Time to get off your butt and get moving. Gravity is such a powerful force that you probably just want to lay on the couch and binge-watch your favorite rom-com on Netflix.
There’s a famous quote by Ben Stein that goes, “So many fail because they don’t get started—they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” That’s right. Ben Stein just called you a failure. So, get off that couch and get moving.
Let gravity suck you in later. It’s a very tough enemy to beat if you’re trying to get fit. Just keep going at it. Once you start seeing results, you’ll start to wonder why you ever thought laziness was a good friend of yours.
Yes, it’s sad when you’re at the gym by yourself. But, if your friends don’t want to go with you, that’s their problem. Don’t let this bring you down. If you think your friends are being unhealthy, it’s not your business. Be polite and tell your friends that you want to hang out together at the gym. If they decline, it’s fine. If they tag along– awesome. Besides, you may even meet new friends with healthier habits at the gym.
In fact, let’s hope that you can find a new workout buddy at the gym. Research by the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect, shows that doing aerobic work with a partner improves your results. Now, that’s positive peer pressure.
10. Your Grades
Ok, so you like to keep those grades up. We can respect that. But, if your grades are coming in the way of your personal health, you’re really not as smart as you think you are. Touché.
So, let’s throw a little info in here from the Harvard Health Blog. Oh, now you’re listening, eh?
Heidi Goodman, the Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, says that “exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
So, whether you’re looking to keep up your grades, or to improve them, as it turns out, exercise could actually help with that.
11. Not being sore
You may have the time, money, and motivation to get fit, but there’s a possibility that you might despise the next-day soreness that follows a workout. That soreness is actually called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and everyone experiences it after a workout. It’s totally normal. Take it easy, and don’t exercise if you’re feeling extra sore.
Others often experience an unpleasant burning sensation in their legs or bum when running. This is another totally normal sensation and not a cause to stop running. If you haven’t worked out in a while, the capillaries in your legs have collapsed. According to Livestrong.com, running will actually improve the circulation in these capillaries and help them to expand. Therefore, keep running!
If you’ve been out of shape for a while, working out every day might turn you into Chris Hemsworth or Beyoncé in a couple of months, but it’d also probably paralyze you. Have a cool-down period and listen to your body. If you have serious pain, take a few days off. Otherwise, keep going! You’ve got this!
So, still have an excuse, soldier? In the end, all you need in your life is moderation. There’s always a compromise for everything. Also, don’t get fit just to look good– do it to feel better and get healthier.
How do you manage to workout with the business of college life?
Have any other things that are difficult to exchange for getting fit? Or maybe other suggestions or advice? Share them in the comments section!