How to Balance Fitness and University

For those of you who have recently started university, you may have realised that it’s a struggle trying to balance lectures, seminars and fitness as well as adapting to your new surroundings and making the most of your new found social life. The key thing to remember is that fitness isn’t the be all and end all in these first few months, the most important thing is that you throw yourself into uni life.

However, if you have always been active before you came to uni, like I was, then this rather disrupted training program can send you flying straight into panic mode. So, here are the top tips I used for balancing fitness and university.

Join a Club

A great way to keep up with your fitness, and be an integral part of university spirit, is to join a club. Most universities offer hundreds of different types, from korfball (a mixture of netball and basketball, apparently) to rowing and climbing. Most clubs usually train twice a week, alongside matches and tournaments, therefore you are getting a great workout in several times a week. Alongside the fitness aspect, you are also getting the opportunity to meet new people and socialise which is what university is all about.

Go to Exercises Classes

Seeing as the majority of universities offer world class gym facilities it would be a waste not to utilise them. There is a fitness class to suit all, from yoga and pilates to body combat and body pump. They usually last from 45 minutes to an hour and on average the body pump classes I attended used to burn 500-600 calories per hour. Similar to joining a club, attending an exercise class is also a great time to meet new people, but if you’re skeptical about going on your own then why not drag your new flat mates!

Plan your Day

A great tip which I found really increased my motivation to workout in first year is to plan your day. If I had planned my work, prepped my meals and packed my gym clothes I would very rarely skip the gym that day (unless I’d had a few too many vodka and soda’s the night before). Whereas without planning, I was always tempted to come straight back home and miss my workout.

Find Something you Enjoy

If you’re dragging yourself to the gym purely for the knowledge that you have worked out then this is the completely wrong mind-set to have. You want to be going to the gym excited about your upcoming session or class, not praying for the moment you can finish and come home. Finding something you enjoy is vital to both your motivation and your mental health. If you hate cardio then try weight-lifting, if you hate the gym then try an exercise class or go for a walk. The main aspect to fitness is that you’re happy within yourself.

How to make your uni room feel like home

As going to uni is such a big and often, daunting step in your life it’s important to make your room feel as much like home as possible. There are so many ways to change your scarce, often not ideally coloured, room into somewhere where you’re happy to spend a lot of your time.

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Colour Scheme

Choosing a colour scheme is a great way to tie your whole room together. On the majority of uni websites you will be able to preview the type of accommodation you’ll be living in, therefore you’ll be able to get a feel towards what the core colours of the carpet, curtains and walls are. If there are limited pictures of your accommodation, it’s always worth searching for videos on You Tube where many first year students have uploaded room tours from a variety of universities. Opting towards a fairly neutral core colour scheme can be beneficial, so you have plenty of leeway in accessorising and personalising your room.

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Accessories 

Once you’ve purchased all the boring, stable kitchen utensils it’s time to shop for more personal items which will really bring your room to life. From cute jewellery stands to fairy lights to motivational plaques, all these items go a long way in making you feel at home, as well as helping to keep your room organised. Most first year rooms have a limited number of drawers and storage space so my number one recommendation is plenty of storage baskets. Many different retailers offer a wide variety of baskets, drawers and make-up holders but I would personally recommend both Home Sense and The Range purely for their aesthetic aspect, not just their functional one.

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Photographs

One of the hardest parts of moving away from home is the sudden distance between you and your family and friends. Although you can’t see them everyday, putting up pictures all around your room of some of your favourite memories is a really effective way in battling home sickness. There are a number of different apps which print and send you your chosen pictures in less than a week, I chose Photo Box as I wanted mine to have a polaroid effect.

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Lights 

Seeing as first years start their term in either September or October the season’s are already starting to change, and depending on where you are in the country, they can change pretty quickly. There is nothing worse than moving somewhere new for the first time and being confronted by long, dark nights, so including fairy lights or light-up photo frames around your room can make a big difference in your overall mood.

How to still live a healthy life at uni

There are many different stereotypes of students at university, but perhaps the most prominent is that you are suddenly thrown into a life of 24/7 drinking, limited sleep and endless takeaways. As this is fairly accurate for a lot of students, particularly during freshers, it can be really hard to establish a routine which enables you to still live a healthy life whilst balancing your degree, social life and the main hardship of uni: laundry. So, here are my top tips for still leading a healthy life.

Plan your meals:

Organisation is an incredibly big part of uni so simply planning your meals at the beginning of the week saves you a lot of time, and also prevents the last resort calls to the takeaway or the endless pizza’s from the uni shop. Not only this, it will also save you a HUGE amount of money in the long run. Buying basic items such as pasta, rice and frozen fruit and veg in bulk means that you only need to buy a few fresh essentials each week.

Pick your mixers carefully: 

Going out and socialising is another big aspect of uni, and with so many flat nights out, course drinks and sports socials you’re going to become very familiar with the dreadful supermarkets own alcohol brand. Spirits themselves aren’t particularly unhealthy, it’s the drink you’re mixing it with which is the problem. Instead of a fizzy drink or red bull try and mix it up whilst you’re on a night out and opt for the occasional lime and soda, or even better lime and water mixer. Also, try to avoid lots of VK style drinks, although admittedly they do taste amazing, they are packed with 30g of sugar per bottle, which is the equivalent of two large slices of chocolate fudge cake.

Join a sports club: 

Joining a sport at uni is one of the best ways to meet new people whilst also getting some great, intense exercise. Most clubs train for 2+ hours per week, as well as competing in various matches and tournaments, so you’re in a great position to be able to keep up your fitness levels.

Go to fitness classes: 

Most uni’s have award winning sports facilities with great opportunities to try new things. Gathering up your flat or course mates and booking onto a fitness class is a great way to spend time together and come out feeling like you’ve mutually achieved something. Fitness classes such as Les Mills’ Body Combat and Body Pump are amazing stress relievers and they are sure to put you in a kickass mood all day.

Avoid too many ready meals: 

Although the easy option is to cook a pizza or shove a lasagne in the oven, too much of these processed meals will start to affect your body, making you sluggish and un-motivated, due to the lack of nutrients. Try to make something fresh everyday, whether it’s chicken and tomatoes to put in some pasta, a salad for in-between lectures or even a big bowl of fruit. All of these ingredients are full of vitamins and minerals which will help you feel better in yourself, especially during stressful periods. Inevitably, there will be certain times where you just want comfort food which is fine, because balancing your food is all part of a healthy lifestyle.

Try to be a morning person: 

On the days where you have limited or no lectures, and you haven’t been out until 4am the night before, try and be a morning person. Exercising in the morning is scientifically proven to stimulate both your mood and your mind-set for the day ahead. So a good gym session, followed by a super healthy breakfast will put you in a great place to get some work done and go out that night knowing you deserve it.

Drink plenty of water:

Drinking water throughout the day is so important in living a healthy lifestyle. Among the many benefits, it reduces fatigue, assists with digestion, flushes out toxins and keeps your skin glowing. Although its tempting to drink 5 coffee’s before 11am on a monday morning, try and stick to water, and aim for 8-10 glasses a day.