By Bakare Oluwatele, Oluwafemi Towoju and Grace Boluwatife Omotayo
Everyone has exactly 24 hours in a day – how do you spend yours? Studying, eating, sleeping, daydreaming, talking, texting, Facebooking and networking are all frequented activities, but it’s often exercising that gets pushed to the backburner. You are aware of this, and you keep telling yourself, “I need to find time to go to the gym.” But with a busy schedule, this isn’t always easy. The good news is you can turn everyday activities into quick and easy exercise routines – ones that you can do daily to make sure you don’t let those late-night snacks get the best of you. Exercising does not only make your body healthy – it makes your brain healthy too. Studies have shown that exercising can improve your thinking skills. Plus, it will help you retain information better, although hours of studying burn mental energy, both your body and mind need physical exercise to function at their peak. But too much school activities here and there and no guidance to remind you to exercise your body, how do you stay fit in university?
Here are some easy exercises you can start adopting from now that won’t take much of your time.
1. Take the stairs
Yes. Put one leg in front of the other and off you go. Climbing a few flights of stairs is not much, but it certainly counts as exercise if you do it on a regular basis. It doesn’t need to be 10 flights at a time either; it makes sense to take the stairs for short trips, rather than waiting for the elevator or avoiding the stair totally.
2. Turn your house into a gym
With a little improvisation, you can create your own – inexpensive – home gym. Conduct a quick tour of your kitchen, and chances are you’ll find one or two cans of baked beans or chick peas. With your imagination, you can turn those into dumb bells. They won’t help you build remarkable biceps, but it’s a good starting point. You can eventually graduate to using real weights at the gym or purchasing your own set when you have more time. In your bedroom, challenge yourself to 10 push-ups and sit-ups every morning before stepping out.
Is none of this is working for you? Shrug it off. Literally, shrug. Move your shoulders as close as you can to your ears for about five seconds and repeat. It will strengthen your trapezius muscles and relieve any stress building up in your shoulders. Bonus: doing it while you study will make it easier to retain whatever you’re studying.
4. You are what you absorb
Exercise without proper diet is like a Ferrari without an engine – it looks good on the outside, but won’t get you anywhere. You have heard of it before – you are not just what you eat, you are what you absorb. Oats, vegetables, nuts, fish and all the other healthy food you tend to avoid are vital. Pizza, fries and burgers may be pocket-friendly meals, but they mostly contain empty calories, meaning they keep hunger away but fail to adequately nourish your body.Remember that eating healthy does not need to be an expensive or time-consuming activity.
5. Get off the bus at the wrong stop
It sounds counter-intuitive, right? You have only imagined getting off at the wrong stop after falling asleep or being deep in thought or conversation. It is good for you! Getting off the bus or train one stop earlier gives you a longer distance to walk, and can be a very enjoyable form of exercise when the weather is nice. When the sun is shining, it can improve your mental health as well.
6. Stretch to the sky
This one is also relatively simple. Sit up straight and raise your arms to the sky . You will never get there but after holding that position for 10-seconds or so, you will feel refreshed. This is especially nice after a legit workout.
7. Abdominal lifts
You can even sneak in some upper-body workouts while you memorize, this only works if your chair has handles and is not a swivel. First – crisscross your legs on the seat. Then, only using your arms for support, lift up your body from the chair. You can also use this to fool people into believing you can levitate – as long as they do not see your arms.
8. Chair squats
Studying requires a lot of sitting, which can make you antsy, but getting up too often can invite procrastination. Well, this exercise splits the difference. All you have to do is stand up from your chair and squat halfway – hovering over your chair. Hold this for ten seconds and then repeat about twenty times.
9. Run on an elliptical or treadmill
This one’s easy. Just pop into the campus gym, put your study materials in front of you, and run. Let studying distract you from the fact that you are running. When you are on the machines, make sure to gradually increase your incline level. To end your work out, return the incline to your starting level and cool down. Also fun: imagine you are running towards your goals.
10. Water bottle curls
When you’re on the go, you probably have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated. If you don’t, you should, with that you can multitask. Just like lifting weights, curl that water bottle up to your shoulder about 15-times to get a quick and easy workout. This will help build strength in your wrists.
Know that exercise boosts mental function. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve mental alertness and cognitive function. Your brain works better and you can think more clearly after exercising. Physical activity also helps boost memory which is important when studying.Aerobic exercise helps pump blood to your brain, which helps give it oxygen and nutrients that it needs to work and process information.
Exercise has many benefits, but one important benefit for students is that exercise helps boost your mood. Regular exercise helps reduce anxiety, which you may feel because of your studies.Regular aerobic exercise has been found to help reduce tension, stabilize your mood, and reduce stress.Since exercise reduces stress, it helps reduce fatigue associated with elevated stress levels.Exercise boosts your ability to sleep. Adequate rest helps you feel more alert and allows your brain to function better as you study.