By Amy Jones
Being the healthiest version of yourself, whilst also being a student, is not often said in the same sentence. Whilst we all have a good understanding of how important our health is as young adults, it is easy to let health and fitness take a back seat when living the typical university student lifestyle.
Not only do students have the job of balancing fitness with their rigorous studies, but there is also the topic of money that comes into play. Student life can be a simple one, and depending on the loan and time you have for a part-time job, money can be a scarcity.
The thousands of fitness products that are being advertised on the internet might make you feel like you have to drop a bomb of cash to have a healthy lifestyle, but this is not the case. Maintaining a healthy fitness regime and diet whilst being a student is very achievable and can set you up for maintaining a healthy lifestyle once your studies are finished. In this blog post, we will share the best tips and tricks for following a healthy fitness and diet plan whilst studying as a student. Take what you wish from this post, but remember, we are nothing without our health!
The importance of fitness for students
When we were kids, fitness, and exercise would come as a given. It was a simple way to pass the time and create communities within the chosen sport. As we get older, the scarcity of time means that organised sports are less likely to be a priority, and especially for students, the work comes first. Before you let your health and fitness come second to your studies, however, it is essential to understand its benefits and effects it can place on other areas of your life:
- Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, which is a common experience among young adults during this malleable time of their lives.
- Being healthy and following a good diet is proven to benefit the quality of sleep that we have.
- Regular exercise reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
- Consuming a healthy and nutritious diet gives you more, long-lasting energy, meaning you won’t be falling asleep in the lecture halls as much!
Making your health a priority
You hopefully now have some inspiration as to why our health and fitness are so important. Take a look at the following actionable steps you can take to make fitness a priority:
Make time for exercise
We have all been there. Our schedules are filled with lectures, meeting friends, and doing a tiresome food shop, it can feel like there is not a spare minute in the day! As a student, you will surprisingly have more free time than you will likely have in your professional years to come, therefore it’s important to embed the routine of getting exercise into your routine. Not everyone wakes up every day and has the innate desire to take a 5K run.
Instead, the habit of working out needs to be forced into your daily routine (yes forced) until it feels like a typical part of your day. Making time means finding the best time of the day to work out for you. If you currently roll out of bed at 8:45 to make it for your lecture at 9 and do not have the time to work out, start waking up at 7. As painful as it may sound, it will become a habit the more you fight against the urge to stay in bed. Embed the habit of working out, and make the time available if your schedule seemingly does not have the space for at least a 30 workout!
Take advantage of discounts/ university facilities
On the topic of budgets, you do not have to spend a fortune on the most expensive gym memberships out there. Getting exercise into your busy student lifestyle can be as simple as going for a run, or walking 10 thousand steps every day. For the students who prefer to have a gym or a specific location for completing their exercises, they have the benefit of student discounts for gym membership and also fitness facilities in their university. Utilise student discount platforms such as UNi Days and Student Beans to see if a gym close to you offers such discounts. Also, check out your university’s gym facilities and if they are free to students.
Pretty much all universities have organised sports available, so perhaps consider joining one of the teams to get exercise in, whilst making new friends! Don’t feel silly for trying a sport you haven’t done before. Instead, be proud of stepping out of your comfort zone.
Meal prep your lunches and dinners
Forget the pot noodles and toast, if you want to invest in your health and fitness on a budget you should be meal prepping your main meals. Meal prepping has turned into an internet trend whereby people showcase the Michelin-star meals they have prepared for the week ahead. Skip the confusion, and keep things simple.
Start by establishing your maintenance calories, which you can find out online, and based on your fitness goals start prepping food based on your limits for the day. If you are interested in calculating your specific nutrient intakes such as protein and carb requirements, you can do, but this can create an extra stressor on top of what you already have. Keep it simple and avoid sugary foods in the morning, have a sufficient amount of protein to keep you full, and avoid processed foods where possible, simple! Meal prep for 3 days ahead with things such as chicken, salads, rice, and other foods that are inexpensive yet keep you feeling full. Shop at cost-effective stores for your food shop, and stick to your budget!
Shop the sales for fitness gear
An important part of working out is having the correct fitness clothing. Your fitness gear does not have to be high-spec clothing, but it should at least make you feel as comfortable as possible when working out. Gym clothing can be expensive, but all you need is a reliable pair of gym leggings, a breathable gym top, and also some supportive trainers to support your joints throughout your exercise of choice. Shopping second hand is also a great option if you hope to stretch your cash whilst helping the planet. There are loads of sales out there for good quality fitness clothing, so do some searching and only buy new pieces if you need them!
Overall, maintaining a good fitness regime whilst balancing the student lifestyle is a hard task to maintain. It will take a lot of time and effort to stick to a healthier lifestyle, and you will even fall on and off track a number of times. The best thing you can do for yourself at this ever-changing stage of life is to make your lifestyle balanced and create better habits and choices that can last a lifetime.