As you become more independent, it’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with physical exercise. Lots of us played sports or had PE classes at school to make sure we were active – not me, but some people. (The closest I came to playing sports was reading about Harry playing Quidditch.) But those classes are no longer there to motivate us. You can still join sports teams through Uni. Though if you’re anything like me, that won’t be your jam. I’ve never been anyone’s #fitspo, and I can’t catch a ball to save my life, but I try my very hardest to exercise regularly. Staying active helps your brain function, improves your mobility, and just makes you feel accomplished. Getting outside in the fresh air everyday is crucial for your mental and physical heath – especially in these unprecedented times. (Man, what I wouldn’t give to for something to be precedented right now.)
It’s really hard to find the time to exercise, especially if you work or are in a particularly demanding programme of study. The best way to combat this is to have a routine. Consistency is key; once you build up the habit, finding the time becomes natural. To get yourself started, try setting aside 30 minutes on Monday and Friday to do some sort of exercise. You can add more days in once you’ve built up the knack of consistently exercising on those days. The great thing about living in Auckland, particularly Auckland Central, is that you can really walk everywhere, so that’s a great way to get some activity in. But, it’s still important to consciously set aside time for deliberate exercise so that you get in the habit of taking care of your health. When I’m at home, my family and I love to go on walks together. When I’m on my own, I try to keep that same energy.
Some people can find themselves developing unhealthy relationships to exercise, whether that’s a pathological aversion or a destructive compulsion. It’s important you know that exercising doesn’t have to be about losing weight. Anybody of any size will benefit from exercising for the simple purpose of moving your body for mental and physical health. The number on the scale isn’t necessarily the main reasons why exercise is good for you. Weight loss aside, it’s brilliant for your health to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. If you find yourself using exercise in an unhealthy way, or you’re not eating enough to have energy to exercise, I’d encourage you to take advantage of the University health services and your free counselling sessions. You can find them here.
With all this in mind, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite ways to get active.
Going to the Gym
Gyms aren’t for everyone. But, if you’re going to be living in the Halls or in other University-provided accommodation, membership is free! I love trying out new machines and working out different muscle groups. The great thing about being a Uni student is that your schedule differs from other people’s, so you can go to the gym at off-peak times and really get to know the machines. I like to go around midday between classes so that I can have whatever machine I want. Don’t feel intimidated; everyone there is super nice, and the machines have stickers that show you how to use them.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT will kick your butt. There’s not a single session I don’t finish covered in sweat and breathing like a sixty-year smoker. But it does wonders for your strength, flexibility and endurance, plus you feel super proud when you finish a session! You can go to the Recreation Centre HIIT classes, or you can look up workouts on YouTube totally free and do them from the comfort of your room, where no one can see you pant (and in my case, cry). Make sure not to overdo it with HIIT, because it does deliver what the name promises – three times a week is more than enough, so feel free to put some low-intensity walking or jogging on the other days.
Walking up Mt Eden/Mt Wellington
If you’re handy to either of these places, a walk up them is a great way to get out in the sunshine and get some great exercise. Walking up inclines is really good for your endurance and leg strength. Plus, you get an awesome view when you make it to the top. If you’re close by, you can even walk to and from there to get an extra workout in, but it’s also great to get the bus (or Beam if you’re feeling frisky).
I really thought I was flexible until I started doing yoga. Turns out that in exam season, I’m as tightly wound as a spring. Yoga is so good for your flexibility, muscles, and your mental health; just taking some time to relax and sit with your thoughts really will make you feel more at peace. The Recreation Centre offers yoga classes (which are free for members) and there’s loads of other great Yoga studios around Auckland. Also, there are heaps of free classes on YouTube if you’d rather get your Down Dog sorted in private before debuting it to others.
AUDA (Auckland University Dance Association) runs a bunch of awesome classes for a really cheap price. I was a dancer all through my childhood, and I really regret letting it slip since I’ve been at Uni. Obviously it’s not something we’ve had access to during lockdown, so I really encourage you to take advantage of it as soon as possible! Regardless, just put on some music and dance around your room for a bit. That’s a workout in itself. I reccommend Up All Night by One Direction. It’s a bop, and I will not take criticism of this opinion because it is correct.
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