What is the number one problem afflicting college students of today? LAZINESS. Just kidding! It’s actually stress! However, what does stress have to do with being physically active? Everything! I know it might be stressful to think about how to budget time out to exercise (look for some tips here on how to exercise with a busy schedule) but exercise really does help with decreasing stress.
Here are some tricks to help incorporate some more activity into your daily life and decrease your stress levels in the process!
Trick #1: Walk EVERYWHERE!
Whether it is to class or out to dinner, just walk! Trust me, this is a great “step” towards a healthy lifestyle!
And for those of you who may be a bit skeptical at how many health benefits there are for walking, according to Harvard Health walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems by 31%. Now, you do have to walk more than just a simple ten minute walk, as the CDC suggests you should probably walk about 4-5 miles a day or 8000 steps, but this adds up quickly if you can walk while accomplishing other tasks. You can walk while calling your parents, catching up with friends, or listening to the most recent audiobook on your list. You can walk to get your groceries or to a nearby restaurant. But also, don’t worry if you don’t reach that goal, as most people already walk about 6000 steps a day, which is great. So get out there and go on some long walks!
Trick #2: Stand, don’t sit!
Many people don’t realize it but we actually sit for most of our days. People typically sit from 8 to 15 hours in their day, which according to the American Medical Association, is not good for personal health.
There are easy ways to fix this! Stand while you are doing work, in a meeting, or even in class. For meetings, you may have to check if everyone else is okay with it, but if you are leading it, initiate it! As for classes, a lot of professors are fine with it if you want to stand for a bit in the middle of class. Now don’t do that if you are sitting in the front or the middle, but if you quietly walk to the back of the lecture hall, do it. Standing also keeps all the blood flowing through your body and will help you keep energized. So remember: stand, don’t sit!
Trick #3: Take the stairs!
Now I know I don’t need to remind us UCLA students, staff, and faculty to climb up those stairs, but I’m going to anyway! Loads of people already use climbing stairs as a fitness tool because, as Dr. Harvey Simon, associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, states, climbing stairs is one of the best contributors to preventative medicine. And if you think that sometimes they get too taxing, no big deal. They are supposed to be taxing, so start off at a slower rate and gradually build it up!
So next time you see the stairs, hit those up instead of an elevator. Or even if you can’t make it all the way with stairs, start with stairs and then reward yourself with taking the elevator the rest of the way.
Trick #4: Clean your dorm/apartment!
As college students, we can get pretty darn messy. We all have that chair that we stack clothes on and those tables littered with papers everywhere that need to be dealt with (don’t worry, you don’t have to admit it: we’ve all been there). So when you’re looking for an excuse for a break that is both helpful to your living situation and your health, clean those rooms!
While cleaning your room, you can actually break quite a sweat. From using those Swiffers to vigorously wiping those desks, your arms and legs actually get quite the workout! So the next time either your parents or your roommates get on your back for not cleaning your area, go with it! You’ll get some exercise in your day and it will lead to a bunch of other health benefits, such as making you sleep better!
Trick #5: Use a fitness tracker or app!
Tracking your activity will do wonders to adding more activity to your day! By seeing your progress for the day, you’ll be more likely to walk more and be active.
And there are loads of ways to make this more fun! You could check out awesome apps that track your walking while adding a game to it. For example, there’s an app called “Zombies, Run” that uses the amount you walk, jog, or run and helps you fight off the zombies. There are loads more apps out there too that help monitor your activity and make it way more exciting!
You could also track with your friends! Get your friends into tracking their walking that way you can motivate each other to stay active daily. But remember that it doesn’t have to be a competition: you want to make sure that you are getting active for your own health and enjoyment, not because you need to prove something to your friends
Also, if you are interested in a FitBit to track your activity, if you check out UCLA Rec’s Stress Less Week (this week!), you can be entered to win one! It’s from January 22nd to January 26th and they are giving out one every day. All you have to do is register and go to their events, from yoga to stress relief.
Now that you know some tricks to adding some activity to your lives, good luck! Here’s to everyone staying active despite the busy schedules!
Tiffany Hu is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Bioinformatics. She is a blogger for Move Well of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is the co-Director of the Student Health Advocates, which focuses on educating students on various intersections of health. Tiffany is also the Special Projects and Alumni Coordinator of the UCLA Care Extender Internship, which helps students volunteer at all departments in the UCLA Medical Centers.