Taking maximum advantage of your university gym may not be high on all students’ priority list but it could well prove to be your best friend. Regular exercise has been proven to have a whole host of health benefits, and can really help you to make the most of your time at uni.
Most colleges have on-site student gyms available to use throughout your degree. And more and more Unis are electing to build student accommodation gyms. The main benefits are the convenient location, the relative low cost, and that it’s a gym specifically designed for students! This usually means a welcoming environment coupled with a carefully selected range of essential workout equipment and on-trend classes to take advantage of.
The physical health benefits of regular exercise are widely understood. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
What’s less well-known is that studies have also shown a link between being physically healthy and a strong academic performance. This is because low-intensity exercise can give your energy levels a much-needed boost, crucial when completing a difficult assignment or revising for an exam.
Mental health benefits
The benefits of exercise aren’t just limited to physical wellbeing. , We now know that one in four students suffer from mental health problems. Research shows that physical activity can boost your mental health by helping to elevate your self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise has in fact been found to treat mild-to-moderate depression as effectively as medication, without any of the side effects. Aerobic exercises like walking and running have been found to be of most benefit along with yoga.
Research shows that just 20 minutes of exercise before studying can improve concentration and help you focus your learning. Intense physical activity causes blood to flow to the brain, which then fires up your neurones and promotes cell growth. Taking advantage of the student gym before you study will help charge your brain and get you in the right frame of mind for learning.
Students agree: Anthony, a student at Kingston University said:
“University can be overwhelming at times, particularly in the run-up to assignment deadlines and exams. Going to the gym regularly has not only made me fitter but improved my general wellbeing.”
Fit with friends
But perhaps the best benefit of the student gym is the opportunity to meet fellow students, doing something you love.
Many staff working in student gyms are themselves current or ex-students. They will be able to tailor an exercise plan to your personal needs and even introduce you to other students with similar goals.
Classes are often incredibly wide-ranging and can include spin, martial arts, HIIT, dance and many more. Classes are often included as part of your gym membership so why not take advantage and try a few out, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before?
“A large part of anxiety and stress for new students is making friends and building up a social life,” says Nick Sadler, Director of motive8. “Exercise in the gym makes those barriers disappear and it’s easy to find people who have something in common, whether they both like cycling or weight lifting.”
Student gym equipment
A well-designed student gym will include treadmills, spin bikes, cross trainers and rowers are all great for getting a thorough cardio workout. Use them in rotation to keep your workout interesting and well-rounded. If you have particular goals in mind discuss this with a trainer to get a more personal workout to best fit your needs.
If you’re looking to improve your muscular strength, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and medicine balls can all provide a great muscular strengthening and toning workout. There are lots of strengthening exercises you can do without weights such as pull ups, press ups, and bench jumps.
“It’s important to try everything and mix it up,” says Nick. “Go there with a mind set to try absolutely everything out. That way you won’t get stuck in a rut.”
Both in terms of physical and mental wellbeing joining your student gym could well be one of the best decisions you make at university.
At motive8, we consult, design, install and manage gyms for hotels, businesses, student and private residential accommodation – click here to learn more.