Be a healthy student (without the gym)

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By in Health & Relationships. Updated April 2015.

Gyms can be expensive, with some costing an eye-watering £300+ per academic year. And there’s no guarantee you won’t bump into a White Goodman wannabe.
GymLate, booze-fuelled nights can sap your energy, leaving you incapable of anything more energetic than watching endless episodes of Come Dine With Me in bed.

And, when these two dastardly traits are combined, it can be really difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle at university.

Now – your mum may not be there to drag you out of bed or pile your plate with greens, but we’re here to give you some pointers on staying fit for free(ish).

Keeping fit for cheap

Don’t be a couch potato

Couch potato pugBecoming a student means regressing to midday naps, but you’ll actually find that if you get up and do something active, you’ll have more energy.

Lazing around makes you feel sluggish and so you are less likely to exercise, which makes you more sluggish… and so a vicious cycle begins.

Instead of joining the gym save yourself the gym fee and view the world as your playground. Stick your iPod on and go for a jog or, if you are studying away from home, explore your new surroundings on foot.

Discover the sights in your city

London

Lookin’ good, London!

Loads of students spend their first year of uni completely oblivious to some of the best parts of their new city (aside from the clubs), but you’ll discover some real hidden gems just by taking a different route on a walk to the shops.

The fresh air will also do wonders for your skin, reviving a grey complexion from too many hours staring at your computer screen. A brisk walk will be especially inviting when you have an essay to write, and is a better rest for your brain than trawling Facebook during a mini-break.

It’s worth remembering that just owning a gym membership doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll spend much time there!

Get a workout DVD

Nintendo Wii

The Wii does not count as a workout DVD. Come on. You know better.

As winter rolls in, venturing out in the cold may not be ideal, so invest a few quid in a workout DVD – they’re fun and will keep you fit under those woolly jumpers until its time to shed some layers for summer.

The best way to keep fit though, is to join a sporty society at uni. There may be a joining fee, but it will be much more rewarding than the gym, as you benefit from the social side as well as the exercise.

Check out Dani’s article for the top 5 cheap workout DVDs.

Try Hula hooping

Hula hoopingWho doesn’t like to hula hoop? You may think this is a thing of the past and you’re too grown up for this now, but think again! Hula hooping is actually an amazingly fun way to keep fit and one you can do whilst watching TV or listening to some tunes.

Hula hooping burns fat and tones up your body as it uses major muscles – particularly your core muscles – to get that hoop turning, whilst improving co-ordination and flexibility.

You can pick up a cheap £1 hoop from most children’s stores, or you can get special weighted hoops designed for fitness and dance from Amazon.

Download Fitness apps

iPhone HealthIn this day and age we can now download apps to our phones for just about anything including to keep fit. Indeed, the latest version of Apple’s iOS includes Health, which tracks how many steps you take, miles you run, and flights of stairs you climb for free.

Other systems – like Android – also have some awesome offerings. Now, push-ups and sit-ups may not sound like a fun way to keep fit, but the apps by Rittr Labs allow you to begin right from the beginning and build up your strength and ability.

If you are competitive, you will enjoy watching the numbers go up and actually being able to accomplish them. You could even test yourself against friends as to who can do the most!

Another amazing app to get you started (which we personally used, and now run up to three to six miles regularly) is the Couch to 5k app which aims to get you running 5 km (3.1 miles) in nine weeks.

Kick the bad habits

ExerciseBy making small changes to your daily habits, you can make student life healthier and save pounds. Walk to lectures to save on bus fares, take the stairs in the library instead of the lift, and spend all night on the dancefloor, not at the bar.

If you are worried about balancing studies with a part time job and staying fit, kill two birds with one stone by looking for an active job.

Working in retail or hospitality can be surprisingly exhausting, and coming home with sore feet means you’ve done your exercise for the day.

Say no to alcohol (sometimes)

DetoxifyUse those inevitable weeks when you can barely scrape enough together for a pint in the Student Union to detox. Drinking culture is a big part of student life, but alcohol weakens your immune system, causing those perilous colds that make you want to burrow under your bedsheets forever.

Use that last fiver to fill the fridge with fresh fruit and veg, and give your system a break from rich foods for a week. Fresh food is cheaper than junk, so don’t buy biscuits and crisps. You can’t eat them if they aren’t there! Snack on fruit instead – it’s cheaper than a chocolate bar, and your body will thank you for the vitamin boost.

Drinking hot water with lemon in the morning cleanses your insides, too – perfect when there’s no milk for your tea!

Learn to cook healthy

Stir fryStudent hangover cure takeaways can really eat up your cash, so learn a few easy recipes to have on hand when the munchies take over. A meal from the Chinese takeaway can cost £6, so whip up a quick stir fry with leftover vegetables for a cheap, healthy alternative. Bulk it up with noodles and plenty of flavour for a filling dinner.

There are loads of cheap healthy meals for students on the site. Check out Emily’s homemade pizza recipe for example – after all, sometimes only a pizza will do!

Student life is so much fun that sometimes looking after yourself can take a back seat, but it’s important to feed your body with fuel so you’re always ready for whatever university throws at you – be it spontaneous nights out or focusing on an important essay. When you have a lack of vitamins, your grades will suffer as well as your social life. So keep your mum happy and your body healthy!

All it can take is a small change in lifestyle to change from couch potato to Mr or Miss Active! Healthy body = healthy mind. And remember: if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.

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