While in college, a student’s fitness may be prioritized under multiple classes and assignments.
Although, a student could incorporate an exercise plan that is effective and feasible when they plan accordingly.
Dealing with the stress of college may prompt a student to think that there is no time for maintaining physical fitness. But one may not need to exercise a lot in order to stay fit while in college.
Audra Day, assistant professor of practice in the Tech Department of Kinesiology, said a student should not have to exercise every day, as they can disperse the amount of exercise throughout the week.
“The best exercise routine to maintain cardio-pulmonary health, so how your heart and your lungs stay healthy, is really to try to exercise anywhere from three to five days out of the week,” she said. “You can go all the way up to seven days a week, but typically most college students aren’t going to be able to exercise every day.”
A person should try to exercise about an hour during each of their planned exercise days, Day said. Starting small at around 30 minutes a day is one way she said a student can start maintaining their exercise routine around their classes and other time commitments.
“Really, do 30 minutes exercise aerobically. Use that as a warm-up,” she said. “Then do 30 minutes of strength training. That doesn’t even necessarily have to be at the Rec.”
Not having enough time to exercise is a misconception Day said some students have, as they think they need to be exercising for more than an hour at a gym. She said one needs to be active at least three days a week and can do short bouts of exercise with or without gym equipment.
Body squats, pushups and lunges are just some exercises Day said a student can do without having to go to the Tech Recreation Center. Whether one is at the Rec or not, she said a student still needs to cool down after exercising.
“I think a cool-down is usually about 10 to 20 minutes after you exercise,” she said. “If you just simply do some strength training and then you need to do an appropriate cool-down, just walking to class would be an outstanding way for you to cool down.”
Incorporating stretching after exercising and before going back to class is a method Day said she suggests but is not mandatory. She said a moderately-paced walk will be a sufficient cooldown technique.
Regardless of the amount of time one has to exercise within a given week, another challenge a student may face is maintaining proper nutrition or a diet while having to adapt their exercise regimen to a college lifestyle.
Emily Dhurandhar, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, said one’s eating habits while maintaining an exercise routine depends on his or her goals.
“As long as you’re reasonably well feed, meaning you haven’t fasted in the last 18 hours, you’re probably going to be fine,” she said. “Once you start going for 40 minutes or longer for moderate to vigorous physical activity, that’s when you want to plan your meal before your workout a little more carefully and your hydration a little more carefully.”
One should eat a proper meal, which should consist of some carbohydrates and a little protein, about two to four hours before moderate to vigorous activity, Dhurandhar said. Eating a meal that is very rich or has a lot of fat before exercising is one way she said a person can get sick.
“The body can’t just do it without a little bit of planning,” she said. “Your performance will suffer.”
Cereal, yogurt, milk and orange juice are just some foods Dhurandhar said could make up a good pre-exercise meal. She said one needs enough carbohydrates to maintain high intensity while exercising.
“Once you eat it, it takes a little time for it to digest, a little time for it to be stored in your muscle,” she said regarding the carbohydrates in the food. “You can’t use it in the muscle unless it’s there.”
After exercising a student if finished exercising, Dhurandhar said a snack with a 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, such as a glass of chocolate milk, is good for the body.
Despite how a student should prioritize and manage the amount they exercise, one may face issue if he or she does not have a balanced regimen.
Heather Vellers, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, said there are a variety of issues that could occur whether one overexercises to make for the lost time taken by classes or underexercises because of a heavy schedule.
“If you’re running a whole lot, and you’re not building that up slowly, you could cause stress fractures,” she said. “If you’re overtraining, there’s an overtraining syndrome, and you can have muscle soreness that persists, and you’re really never going to increase your fitness beyond that.”
Burnout is another consequence of overexercising Vellers said can occur when a student starts being inactive then transitions into high-intensity activity.
In addition to the issue of exercising too much, not exercising enough is another problem Vellers said certain college students face. She said there are different consequences that could result from not being active.
“One, there’s weight gain, and there are other things that come along with that,” she said. “Diseases, obesity, Type 2 diabetes. Those are not only physical inactivity, but they have to with diet as well.”
Regardless of the techniques a student should utilize to maintain a balanced exercise routine along with keeping up with the workload of college, one may not have to sacrifice too much to incorporate exercise into his or her daily schedule.
When exercising, one may not need to put an extreme amount of effort in to stay fit throughout the school year.
“It’s really important to maintain physical activity because one, there’s a huge correlation between that and mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing,” Day said. “Just 30 minutes, three days a week is more than enough to maintain a very active lifestyle.”