Exercise in College, Part 1
Catchphrases usually don’t annoy me that much, but the “freshman fifteen” seems to have been beaten to death. Sure, some people do gain a few pounds the first term of the freshman year. Big deal; you can gain a pound or two over the weekend from too much beer. From what I have witnessed and experienced, the freshman fifteen is not specific to only freshman year. The undesirable weight gain always has to do with a lack of self-control. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. And I definitely did eat ice cream every night freshman year. But this post isn’t about weight loss.
It’s also a common myth that exercise equals weight loss. No matter which diet you’re on or not, it all comes down to a simple equation of how many calories you ate and expended throughout the day. That’s enough of a rant on the general obsession I see with weight loss.
So let’s talk about exercise: how often, how long, where, what, when, etc. I’ll draw mostly upon my personal experience, with a few sources elsewhere.
The Most Important Thing
Exercise regularly. This does not translate to five times a week for 30 minutes or three times a week for 50 minutes. It’s different for every person. Try to exercise when you’re just coming off of your sore streak and before you’re entirely rested. It’s tough, but it builds character. In my case, it’s after about two or three days. This period will shrink the more you exercise.
“I don’t have time.”
Yes, you do. This was the excuse I used for awhile until I realized that exercise made me feel more like getting work done and even simply being awake. Rather than Facebook stalking people for a half hour, go work out. Every one has time to exercise.
Your Conscience Says You Look Funny While You Exercise
We all do. Make a sport out of how ridiculous you look in your work out attire. It helps take your mind off of it.
And there’s something about talking to a member of the opposite gender dripping in sweat and smelling like a water treatment plant that makes them so… attractive.
Exercise to feel good, not to lose weight. Chemicals fly around, your body does some stuff, and you feel better. Poof, magic. The science is not particularly relevant, but read about it if you would like. Because regular exercise effectively keeps your system clean, blood flow increases all around. For both genders, it means more oxygen for your brain. For guys, it means increased blood flow to a certain… organ. (Note: not substantiated by [real] evidence.)
The bottom line: exercise a few times a week.
Possible Outlets of Exercise (Especially for Our Poor College Selves)
Some forms of exercise are most expensive than others. Some forms of exercise are just plain boring.
On campus or near campus exercise facility.
If you are lucky enough to have an exercise facility/rec center/workout room on campus, use it. Especially if it’s included in your tuition. Especially if your parents are paying your tuition. You don’t want to find yourself graduating having never stepped foot inside a free gym. Here at LMU, CA we’ve got a nice rec center and ass-crazy tuition. Not using it would be foolish.
To get to school, you probably use this fancy new technology called a road, maybe even a network of them. Running is the cheapest form of exercise: you only need shoes and shorts. Be sure to check out The Top 7 Things To Know To Begin Running. Use MapMyRun to keep track of distances run.
Running does have a few downsides, though. I would say it has a steep learning curve; once you break that three mile mark, you will feel insignificant (and not hardcore). Running on dirt trails is usually ideal, but these aren’t always available. Running on pavement is certainly do-able, but your knees will probably start hurting.
Bikes are staples of transportation on larger campuses. Many students seem to never consider using them for exercise. I’ve recently fallen in love with road biking. It’s relaxing, you cover a lot of ground, you get to explore, and you have a reason to leave campus. Biking also has a certain cult to it; wave to every other road biker you pass, they will wave back. This odd camaraderie motivates you for that one last climb. And you feel like a bad ass.
But having to get off campus to do some serious riding can be a downside, especially if you go for a ride during rush hour. The city of Los Angeles is surprisingly bike friendly, but not every city will have bike paths every which way. Getting started in biking is also a little pricey: you’ll need a decent bike and a helmet. Shorts, gloves, and decent pedals are also a must if you plan to use biking as your primary method of exercising. Check out craigslist to grab a bike and eBay for some decent gear.
The amount of exercise you can get from intramurals varies from campus to campus. If you’ve got a hardcore team that actually practices, this will probably be all you need.
The All in All
Get out there. Go running with a friend. Spend a few minutes on a bike in your gym or on the road. Be something Uncle Sam would be proud of.
Leave a comment or two about how you work out, you buff man/woman you.