Fit to Party
Staying fit in the lead-up to the seasonal celebrations is tough as a student. There are parties almost every night as the term winds down; there are activities organised by departments, by clubs and societies; and of course the Students’ Union will be running heaps of not-to-be-missed events.
Add to that, end of term tests, some exams, coursework deadlines and a feverish rush to get the already late essay onto your tutor’s desk and you suddenly start to realise the meaning of pressure.
So many students fall victim to coughs, colds, flu and the dreaded glandular fever at this time of year and, just as things start to ramp up, you find yourself a spluttering, coughing, snivelling wreck who can’t lift your head off the pillow. Some of this is down to stress; some is down to sitting in lecture halls with hundreds of infected students; some of it is simply due to burn the candle at both ends.
On way to avoid the end of term large is to make sure you keep up an exercise regime and eat as well as is humanly possible when all around you are festive temptations.
The first thing to do is to plan an exercise regime for the final weeks of term. Try to fit in a run, cycle or swim at least three times a week. Fresh air, oxygen moving speedily around the body, transporting red blood cells to the far reaches of your muscles, will help energise you and help your body in its fight against germs.
Make the exercise tough so that you are sweating and breathing hard. maybe add a few sprints to your run; a hill or two into your cycle or a few hard lengths into your swim and try to keep up the effort for 45-60 minutes.
As well as cardiovascular exercise, it is a good idea to do a strength and conditioning session. This will help your muscles both tone and relax. You don’t need to go to an expensive gym or personal trainer for this. Simply plan a circuit that can be done in your bedroom or, even better, outside.
Here is a sample circuit that can be done anywhere, anytime. (See end of article for explanations of the exercises)
- 10 x each of the following exercises: push-ups, crunches, squats, triceps dips, cycling sit-ups, lunges, hands to elbow plank, back raises and donkey kicks.
- Two minutes of jogging on the spot and star jumps.
- 15 x each of the following exercises: push-ups, crunches, squats, triceps dips, cycling sit-ups, lunges, hands to elbow plank, back raises and donkey kicks.
- Two minutes of spotty dogs and straight legged running on the spot
- 20 x each of the following exercises: push-ups, crunches, squats, triceps dips, cycling sit-ups, lunges, hands to elbow plank, back raises and donkey kicks.
- 10 burpees, 30 mountain climbers, 8 burpees, 30 mountain climbers, 5 burpees, 30 mountain climbers.
And finally, take some time for your well-being. This could be a walk, a coffee break with friends, a yoga session, a trip to the cinema – anything that involves some quiet time or some time away from the frenetic end of term activities.
- Push up: lie face down and flat on the floor. Place your hands under your shoulders and push up so your weight is on your hands and your toes and your body is horizontal.
- Crunch: lie flat on your back, hands interlaced behind your head. Lift your knees to your legs are at right angles to your body. Now lift your head and chest off the floor towards your knees. Hold and then lower slowly.
- Squat: Stand with feet shoulder distance apart, hands on hips. Now bend your legs so your back stays straight and your tailbone goes towards the floor. Squat as low as you can and then straighten up. That is one squat.
- Tricep dip: Place your hands on a chair or bench behind you, with your back to the bench and your feet out in front of you. Your weight should be on your arms and feet. Lower and raise your body through the use of your arms.
- Cycling sit-ups: Lay with your back flat on the floor, hands interweaved behind your head. Bring your right knee towards your elbow, keep your left leg straight out and off the floor. Now switch legs so you are making a cycling motion.
- Lunges: Start with feet together, now take a big step with your left leg, so your right knee almost reaches the floor. Return to starting position, then repeat on another leg.
- Hand to elbow plank: Start with your weight on your hands and toes, body in horizontal line. Now lower your weight to your elbows, one elbow at a time. Return to hands.
- Back raises: Lay on your front, hands clasped behind your head. Slowly raise and lower your head and chest from the floor.
- Donkey kicks: Kneel on all fours. Kick your left leg back and high behind you. Return to start, then repeat with right leg.