All posts by mporter-rawe

How to Schedule Exercise into University Life

Sticking to an exercise routine at university can be difficult. You may be juggling assignments, revision, society activities, ever-changing lectures and seminars, socialising and maybe even part-time work. This can all become overwhelming and you may start to notice fitness becoming less and less of a priority.

Worrying about when to exercise, how and where can become a stress in itself, and may be an added pressure to your university life. However, this can be easily solved with the right information. In fact, exercise is incredibly effective at reducing stress and releasing mood-boosting endorphins. It improves your quality of sleep, promotes self-confidence and can provide a sharper memory and thinking. All of which are important to creating a positive university experience.

Here are 4 ways you can incorporate exercise into university life:

1. Set Aside One Hour Everyday

Firstly, this full hour doesn’t need to be completely dedicated to exercise. For example, you may complete 30 minutes of exercise, but it is important that this one hour is dedicated to you and you alone. Make it a peaceful part of your day.

  • Set aside your phone.
  • Take yourself away from external stressors.
  • Exercise knowing you have an hour to yourself without distraction and there’s no rush.

This may be easier to plan ahead on a calendar if you have an irregular schedule. You will also be more motivated to complete your goals if they are written down!

2. Find Exercises that You Enjoy

You will find it much easier to stick to a routine when you are doing something you enjoy!

Maybe you already know what exercises you prefer but for those who don’t, trial and error may be your first experiences. Here are some good places to start:

  • HIIT
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Barre
  • Body weight
  • Running

If you have specific goals in mind begin there! Decide what it is you want to achieve and what can help you achieve it best.

Here are some articles that can help get you started:

3. Use YouTube

There are thousands of free videos on YouTube that make exercising much more enjoyable and hassle-free.

The video platform takes the thinking out of exercise, you press play and follow the instructions, like having your own personal trainer without the price. You may even find a content creator whose personality is your main reason for coming back the next day. They can motivate you and make difficult exercises much more manageable and fun.

Some good start searches could be:

    • ‘20-minute HIIT workout’ (add ‘no noise’, ‘no impact’ if you live above neighbours)
    • ‘Cardio and Abs’
    • ‘Dance workout’
    • ‘Yoga for beginners’
    • ’No equipment barre workout’

However, be aware, social media isn’t always a positive space, especially when it comes to fitness. Make sure to read our guide on the pros and cons of social media in your fitness journey.

4. Avoid Putting Pressure on Yourself

University life is busy. Don’t stress if you don’t manage to exercise every single day.

To help avoid the pressures of exercise guilt, you can promise yourself a set number of days in the week that you are going to exercise. Therefore, you know you don’t have to exercise everyday and you can be more flexible.

For example, as long as you have exercised on 4 days during a week you have completed your goal. If on Monday you don’t feel like it, you have 6 more days to fit it in!

There is one important rule that you can live by to help avoid exercise guilt:

Do one thing every day that’s good for your body.

This could be as small as going for a walk around campus, meditating for 10 minutes or eating a healthy meal. As long as you have done one good thing that day you can relax knowing you have taken care of your body.

The Health Benefits of Cold-Water Therapy and How you can Try it at Home

Did you know that immersing your body in cold water can have a wide range of benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing? The idea of stepping into cold water sounds completely unappealing and is usually something we actively aim to avoid. However, cold-water therapy is now becoming increasingly more popular amongst a wide range of advocates who are incorporating the practice into their daily lives.

Not quite convinced to take the plunge? Here are some of the benefits it can have:

Reduced Muscle Soreness

DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, can be painful and debilitating. It can diminish your determination, leaving you stuck between a rock and a hard place, especially when your goals require you to complete intense daily exercise. Cold water immersion is a proven natural way to help your body recover faster. This is because the cold water causes your blood vessels to constrict helping with swelling and inflammation. The cold also lowers the temperature of the damaged muscle tissue and numbs the nerve endings which can bring much needed pain relief without reaching for the Ibuprofen!

Improves Lymphatic Drainage and the Immune System

The lymphatic system is a vitally important part of our immune system and is organised through a network of lymph nodes which attack bacteria, viruses and parasites.

However, unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have the heart (pun intended) to pump the lymph fluid around our body and instead relies on body movement and the contraction of muscles to push the fluid around the system.

Science lesson over, this is where cold-water therapy comes in. Cold temperatures cause lymph vessels to contract which forces the system to pump these fluids through the lymph nodes. After regular practice this can help cleanse the body and avoid a build-up of toxins. Leaving you infection-free!

It Has the Potential to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Firstly, cold-water therapy is not a cure for stress or anxiety and should not be treated as such, however research into the iceman, Wim Hof, has shown that by inducing stress on the body (through cold-water immersion) and combining this with meditation and breathing exercises, the brain releases opioids and endo-cannabinoids.

These cause a variety of effects such as:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Regulation of sleep
  • Regulation of memory
  • Enhanced mood

There is also a separate theory that cold-water therapy can reduce your reaction to stress over time, as your body and mind begin to adapt to a stressor (the cold water).

Want to try mediating before cold-water therapy? See our guide to Mindful Meditation.

Having a Go at Home

We understand you won’t be jumping straight into an ice bath or rushing to your nearest body of water for some wild water swimming just yet. But having a cold shower at home is just as effective and a really easy and safe way to replicate these methods at home and start reaping the benefits straight away:

  • Firstly, it’s completely up to you whether you hop straight into a cold running shower or take it nice and easy; gradually dropping the temperature from warm to cold.
  • Each day push yourself to stay immersed for a little bit longer and set yourself timed goals.
  • Start with 30-40 seconds on the first day and keep progressing.
  • Focus on controlling your breathing.
  • Breathe deeply and count each inhale and exhale.
  • Take note of how you feel, do you feel awake, energetic, happy?

Set yourself a challenge and have a go! It offers the opportunity to discover a range of benefits for your body and mind all in the comfort of your own home.

However, if muscle recovery is your main concern and cold water don’t suit you, have a look at our guide; What Type of Bath is Better for Muscle Recovery?