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Utilise the benefits of physical activity

Physical activity can take many forms – there is surely something suitable and pleasant for everyone. Physical activity includes not only sports and physical training but also different kinds of everyday physical activities, such as walking or cycling to places, doing housework and climbing stairs. In other words, it refers to all sorts of moving around instead of staying still.

Physical activity works wonders on both your body and mind. At best, it helps you unload stress and increases pleasure. Physical activity also makes studying more efficient. Breaks for exercising between study assignments refresh you, whereas regular exercise improves your ability to focus, learning and memory.

Find your own type of physical activity

To make it easier to find a type of physical activity that suits you, you can consider what kind of activities would be in your comfort zone and let you experience success.

Identify your own way of doing physical activity. You can consider what motivates and inspires you and what drives you away from exercising. What kind of physical activity has given you the best feeling afterwards? Feeling uncomfortable at the gym or on a jog does not mean that you could not enjoy exercising at all. Maybe swimming, climbing or cycling would be more up your street?

Identify your own way of doing physical activity.

Looking for a type of physical activity you enjoy is worth it. Finding one increases the possibilities of exercising becoming a long-term habit for you.

More physical activity on study days

If you notice that you do not have any energy left for physical activity in the evening, you could consider thinking of ways to increase it during the day. Keep in mind that even a small amount of physical activity has been noted to be beneficial. Increasing physical activity is also easier in small increments than with excessive goals.

Tips for increasing physical activity on study days

  • Go for a walk in the middle of your school day. Take in some fresh air between lunch and afternoon lectures, for instance.
  • Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator. You could even run up the stairs at times.
  • Use the toilet facilities on another floor during lecture breaks.
  • You could have short exercise breaks after lectures.
  • Work standing. You can do some tasks at standing workstations or while sitting on an exercise ball. You can occasionally stand at lectures too.
  • Walk or cycle some of your daily journeys. You could, for example, cycle to the university or back every other day. Or you could set a goal of cycling one return trip of under ten kilometres once a week. Another option is to get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way.
  • You can do some light exercises or stretch yourself while watching the television.
  • You can start off your day with a gentle yoga routine or other light exercises (YouTube has tons of instructional videos for this).
  • You can read for exams on the move: record yourself with your phone reading the material aloud and listen to it on a run or a walk. You can also read your exam books while using an exercise bike.
  • You can plan group work while walking.
  • Does your study place have a gym or some other place for exercising where you could exercise during a free period and hit the showers afterwards?
  • Reserve time for exercising from your calendar in advance.
  • Utilise even short moments for physical activity. Take a 15-minute walk or exercise for 15 minutes before watching a TV show or doing study assignments.
  • Make choices – will you watch an episode of your favourite show today or will you do some kind of physical activity? Could you decrease the number of courses you are on to find some time for exercising?

Source for the tips: students of Sport and Health Sciences from the University of Jyväskylä / 2015.

Food for thought:

  • Do you recognise what sort of physical activity gives you joy and lifts your spirits?
  • What methods could you still try to increase your physical activity on weekdays?