Exercise Obstacles Encountered at University

By Issy Goode - 18:44

Today I wanted to talk a little about exercise and how to fit it in around university. There's plenty of obstacles that you come across in daily life, but what about in student life?

The fact is, not everyone can find the time to exercise. People can have a million and one genuine excuses and others can have a handful of not so genuine ones, but realistically, it's down to if you actually want to or not.

Even those who truly enjoy exercising can't always find the time, or even the motivation to do it. Those who really work at it in the gym and some who do manage to find the time often say "make time" and I've said this myself once in a previous post, but I do understand how sometimes it's not really that simple. The "time" that people, including myself, are referring to is the time you'd probably rather be relaxing, maybe watching some good TV or hanging out with your friends. Yeah, going to the gym does most definitely mean sacrificing some of the time you spend doing those things, but if you want it enough you'll be okay with that. 

However, I know plenty of students who have the time at university to fit it in if they so wish, but I've been there and done it all so I know there are plenty of things that are both genuine obstacles and decent excuses for not working out.

May I just add that I am in no way qualified in this field and I am writing only from personal experience so if you know a little or a lot more and could provide more advice, I'd love to hear it! 

So an obvious obstacle is work. Both students and adults encounter this hiccup when it comes to exercise. This doesn't just refer to university work for you students though as I know that many people need a paying job at university too. Not only do both consume your time but also your energy. 

Solution - When it comes to university work, use exercise as your break. Rather than putting on a TV show or a film in between essay writing and general studying, why not go for a walk, a run or pop down to your local gym. It also works as a great stress reliever too! As for a job, finding the time can be a little more complex, I personally go after I finish work, but I'm in a 9-5 job and my gym opens too late for me to go in the mornings. So you'll have to work around your hours. You can always slip in quick bursts of exercise like high intensity. When it comes to simply feeling too tired to work out, it's really a case of having to push yourself. I'm personally driven by my goals but I also know from experience how much it can seriously boost your energy levels, which helps to keep me motivated. 

In my first year I slept all the time no matter whether I'd been out or not. I began working out in second year and by my second semester I was waking up naturally between 6-7 in the morning and it was mainly down to fitting exercise in and because of that, sleeping better. 

If you're looking for something that'll help you develop more of a routine, try joining one of the sports societies that you know you'll really enjoy. That way, it'll be a hobby and never feel like a chore. 

Staying at your partners house - staying at my boyfriends place, or having him over at mine was one of the biggest obstacles I faced sometimes. Despite the fact we both went to the same gym and both enjoyed working out we often found that we just preferred to stay in. And then there was also the travelling. He lived on campus, I lived off and I lived right near the gym too. When staying at your partners house - especially if the gym isn't near by - it's hard to find the time to exercise (well except you know...) and like I said, when spending time with your partner you probably just want to do something nice and relaxing together. 

Solution - Before heading out to meet your partner, why not leave early and head to the gym first? Or if you live close to the gym and they don't, why not see if they can meet you there and you can head back together - helping to encourage them too! Or visa versa. Alternatively, you could always pack your stuff with you and pop in on the way back. Or do both!

If you're really in need of a workout and struggling to find the time, see if you partner is up for an evening/morning jog or if there are anyways you can help motivate and encourage each other! I found working out at the gym with my boyfriend really encouraging and it helped with my motivation and even got me into weight training!

Nights Out - aren't they always going to get in the way of working out? Maybe you've been at university all day and when you get home you need to make dinner, you want to watch some TV maybe you just want some time to chill out a bit. But what if there's a spontenous night out on the horizon? Or, what if you've already got a big night planned, where's the time to fit a workout in amongst all the important things you need to do beforehand, like watch something on Netflix.

Solution - If you live near to the gym and you're on the way back from university, why not plan it in advance and take your kit with you to fit a workout in before you head home, have dinner and start on the pre drinks. If you've had all day off and you know that your evening events are already scheduled in, you've no excuse not to take a break from whatever you're doing and do a workout!

If you live too far from the gym and you're short on time, try a quick workout at home before showering and getting ready. Fitting in a workout before a night out may seem a little futile - especially if you're trying to lose weight - but, it does make you feel great.

Also, if all of your friends aren't quite in the party mood, see if they want to head to the gym first. This probably doesn't make sense if you haven't tried it but I used to do classes with my friends that were high intensity ones with loud music playing and a really energetic vibe. Sometimes we already had a night out planned but other times they actually got us in the mood for one, especially when good music was playing!

Hangovers - okay, you've slept in late, you got really drunk, you're too dizzy/tired/embarrassed to go see your friends, why on earth would you want to go to the gym?

On occasions my housemates and I did take a trip to the gym to sweat out the hangover. Sometimes it felt great, other times not so much.

Now I have to be honest and say it takes dedication to go to the gym hungover and it really really depends on the intensity of your hangover. The only way you could go to the gym is if you're actually physically able to move from your bed, but none the less...

Solution - Wake yourself up with a glass or two of water, maybe a cup of tea, food if you can stomach it and a walk. I think that's the best exercise to do whilst hungover. A walk outside in the fresh air, provided it's not bright enough to make your head feel heavier than it already does, can do you good. If you're feeling a little less fragile you could always take that stroll to the gym and try a high intensity workout, a quick half an hour to get it all over and done with. And when I say fragile what I mean by that is you've no desire to be sick, you're not dehydrated and basically, you just feel a little tired. Preferably, you don't want to be hungover at all when working out. Don't work out having not eaten anything all day, so if you can't stomach food, you can't stomach a workout. Also, I wouldn't advise working out if you haven't even attempted to rehydrate yourself prior to it, because you'll feel so much worse for it if you decide to go.

I stand by my point really, if hungover I'd simply advise a walk. It's not strenuous exercise but your body's already going through enough as it is trying to get over the hangover so the fresh air will perhaps make you feel a little more alive. Though, your walk is most likely going to take your hungover self to the nearest 'Spoons for a fry up...

You could always try to sleep off the hangover and try an evening gym session - but once again, don't do it dehydrated or having not fuelled your body!

What I would advise is to read up a little more on the affects of working out hungover, and whether it's really a good idea just to be sure you'll make it through!

Obviously exercise isn't the only thing that helps to keep you healthy at university. Your diet plays a huge part, which is pretty hard to control with all the socials, nights out and hangovers as I've said above, but fitting in some exercise can at least partially help to make you feel more alert, sleep better and, combined with that healthy diet, it can make you fitter!

If you've faced any obstacles when trying to get your workouts in, let me know how you got around them!

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