Health Sport Student-made Wellbeing

How to keep fit for free

Keeping fit is an integral part of maintaining good health and wellbeing. Yet with workloads and deadlines, it often seems like a challenge to put time aside for exercise. But, workloads and deadlines are all the more reason you should set time aside to stay active. Not only is exercise a great break and distraction from work, but it can help us to work better when we get back to our tasks. Exercise can improve our sleep, our ability to think positively, and our energy levels.

Nowadays, keeping fit is easier and more accessible than ever. There are so many ways to keep fit that are student-budget friendly and don’t have to cost you a penny. Check out some of my favourites below:

Aim for 10,000 steps a day

I love walking, and it’s now something I try to do daily, especially given the current circumstances. It’s a good way of getting active, but it’s also a great way to get some fresh air, take in the surroundings, and step away from work and screens for a while. Research shows that walking 10,000 steps daily can boost our fitness levels, and lead to weight loss if that’s something you’re working towards. It doesn’t mean walking 10,000 steps in one go though. Rather, we can meet this step target by doing different things throughout the day. Here are some ideas (some might have to wait a little bit given current government guidelines!):

  • Walk instead of getting the bus
  • If you have to get the bus, get off a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • If you have a dog and are at home, take your dog for a walk
  • Take a walk in your study breaks – you could just take a walk around your local area or get on the bus and head somewhere else for a walk. For example, you could take a walk around Media City, or the Northern Quarter to look at street art!
  • If you’re due a catch up with a friend, take a walk with them. You can always stop at a café on your walk!

Obviously, these activities are dependent on the circumstances at the time. Writing this, the measures implemented by the government to tackle COVID-19 mean that we can only leave the house for one lot of exercise a day, making it more important than ever to head out when we can and get in as many steps as possible (just remember to obey the social distancing measures and stay 2 metres apart from anybody that doesn’t live with you). If you can’t leave the house, or already have but want to remain active, thoroughly cleaning and tidying the house or even just your room is a good way to keep moving and get that step count up! Alternatively, you could integrate a workout into your day which will also get your steps up.

Use YouTube videos

My favourite workouts to do are HIIT workouts. This is ‘high intensity interval training’ where you exercise for a certain period of time before resting (for example, you may work for 40 seconds, take a 20 second break and then repeat). YouTube is a great resource for workout videos, and not only HIIT workouts but for the likes of yoga and pilates too if that’s something you’d like to try. For HIIT workouts, I use videos by Joe Wicks, a.k.a The Body Coach. There are so many workout videos on YouTube by a variety of people; this is just my personal preference because I find he offers a wide range of workouts and is also very good at keeping me motivated! He’s also done a few workout videos that are designed for hotel rooms and limited noise, which are perfect if you’re in accommodation and are cautious of the people around you.

Get creative and make your own workouts

Now that I’ve done plenty of the HIIT workouts on YouTube, I’ve grown to know which exercises I like best and which work best for me and the space I have available. With that knowledge, I have now got creative and made my own workouts. The app ‘Interval Timer’ has been really helpful in doing so, as you can set interval cycles, the number of cycles, and times for high intensity (working out) and low intensity (your short period of rest). You can even get creative in using household objects as equipment! Here are some ideas:

  • Use a laundry detergent container as a kettle bell.
  • Use a folding chair as a bench for triceps dips and weights.
  • Use a backpack as a weighted vest.
  • Use a towel as a yoga mat if you don’t have one available.
  • Use the stairs for a good cardio workout.
  • For more ideas on how to incorporate household items, click here.
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