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Staying fit at university: how to avoid the 'freshers fifteen'

With such a dramatic change from living at home, university can be one of the hardest places to keep fit; not only does it require a commitment, away from all the partying, it also comes at a cost.

We were all warned about the mythical 'freshers fifteen', the average number of pounds a student will gain in their first year at university. Unfortunately, a few months down the line, we find ourselves carrying a few extra pounds due to the combination of late nights, boozing, and easy junk food. So how can you fight the bulge and still have fun?

Join a sports team

Both a great way to stay fit and make friends, joining a sports team is on the agenda for many university students. Most universities tend to have a trial period or a day where you can try sports out, so give that a go and find one that suits you. Although this can sometimes be a pricey way to keep fit, you can avoid extra costs by not taking part in competitions or by opting for your own sportswear instead of the university’s branded clothing—you also get the added bonus of sports nights out!

Gym and dance classes

One-off gym and dance classes on a pay-as-you-go basis are great for working around your busy university schedule and social life. Sessions range from £3-£6 and can include spin and HIIT classes at the local gym or even dance and Zumba on campus! Often these types of sessions will give you a loyalty card where you get a session for free.

Just walk!

The simplest and cheapest of them all - walking! It’s quite tempting at university to get the odd Uber to campus or hopping on a bus to do the weekly shop, but exchanging this for a short walk is unbelievably a valuable way to stay active. A study by the London School of Economics proved that those who took a brisk walk on a regular basis had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than gym-bunnies and sports enthusiasts. 

Watch your diet

It’s not just physical activity that’ll keep you in good shape, it also falls down to diet. As much as it is tempting to order a takeaway after a night out, it is important to get your five-a-day, since statistics show that the 16-24 age bracket are the worst for getting their recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake. Cooking a well-balanced meal for yourself can be tricky, especially in those pesky university kitchens, so try to plan your meals out for the week. Some universities have fresh produce markets on campus so make the most out those cheap prices but do treat yourself to a full English every now and then!

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There is a common notion that we should work on our sleep to feel better. That how we feel during the day depends almost entirely on how well we sleep. Needless to say it is true that sleeping well is a big part of how focused, productive and happy we are, but the cause and effect may not be as simple as it’s portrayed. If you spend your day being a couch potato and perhaps doze off unintentionally, perhaps even without you knowing it, well then the chances of you getting good sleep are very low. If you on the find that you can’t fall or stay asleep then your chances of having a great day are not great. Now here’s the important difference between these scenarios - it’s very easy in one of them to pinpoint what’s wrong and what to do. The first one. Getting off the couch and being more physically and mentally challenged is very likely to produce good sleep. In the second scenario it’s not as easy to come up with something that will produce more sleep. In fact trying to get more and better sleep typically just caused sleep anxiety and insomnia. Perhaps we have it all wrong - perhaps it’s not sleep well to live well but rather live well to sleep well. #livewell #sleepwell #cognitivebehavioraltherapyforinsomnia #cbti #CBTinsomnia #cbt #sleepbetter #sleepwell #bettersleep #insomniasucks #insomnia #cantsleep #icantsleep #sleeplessness #sleepless #wellness #futureofwellness #sleepapp #insomniainsight #beatinsomnia #cureinsomnia #cantsleep #noddsleep #notsleeping #whycantisleep #sleepadvice #insomniatreatment #sleepremedies #sleepcoach #sleepcoaching #healthcoach

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It is also important to maintain a healthy mind whilst at university and sleep is a major contributing factor to your academic performance and motivation. Having a regular sleeping pattern and getting the recommended hours of dozing can make you feel much more healthy and ready to face the day. To ensure a decent night sleep, make sure to stay away from blue light just before you get into bed, for example, laptops, phones and TVs, as these can both disrupt and make it harder to fall asleep naturally. It might also be worth grabbing some earplugs to block out those noisy nocturnal housemates!

With numerous social events, adult responsibilities and essays piling up, it is easy to put exercise on the backburner. However, it is important to stay fit as it not only has benefits on your physical health but your mental health too. It is a way of destressing and getting yourself away from the desk and the pressures of university, and as an added bonus, you get to meet new people and try something out of your comfort zone.