Student recreation centers are a great resource that you should try to use during your time at school. It’s sitting right across the street from your classes, so you should at least make an effort to work out from time to time. Student life can become somewhat inactive if you don’t try to stay in decent shape. Also, starting healthy habit early in life is always a good idea.
However, it can be difficult to get into the habit of working out regularly even when the gym is right there, all of the time. Here are a few ideas about how to gain a little positive motivation, a critical aspect of any workout schedule.
You can have one goal, a few goals or a lot of long-term goals, but you need to feel like you’re working toward something. Ideally, your goals should have deadlines. Giving yourself a designated amount of time to accomplish a specific goal will help keep you stay accountable for your progress. Your goals can be anything—whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, running long distances or becoming more flexible.
Long-term work out plans seem to work better when there’s a reason to get into better shape. For example, my sister asked me to run a half marathon with her next year. I’m not very good at running, but I agreed to try it. Even just planning on doing a long run in the future has helped me maintain a better work out schedule. I can now think of myself as “in training” for that event. Because there’s plenty of time between now and my deadline for getting into better shape, I feel just enough pressure to increase my ability.
Don’t hurt yourself
It seems obvious, but it’s very easy to hurt yourself while training for anything. Don’t set your deadline too early. You have to give yourself the time you really need. Be realistic at the beginning and you will surely thank yourself in the end.
It’s also important to give yourself some leeway at times. Some days, you’re just going to be more tired than other days. At times, you might be too sore to do as much as you would really like. Listen to your body’s natural cues, and don’t try to push yourself past that. Just recently, I almost pulled a muscle in my stomach from trying to do too many sit-ups while I was still sore from the last workout.
Keep track of your progress
Tracking through concrete numbers makes your progress more tangible. There’s also something very satisfying about writing down a number that’s better than the number you wrote last time. It allows you to clearly see progress that otherwise might have been hard to notice. For me at least, it helps keep me motivated to see that my efforts have not been for nothing.
Weight lifting is easy to keep track of. When lifting weights, you should try to do multiple “sets” of a certain number of repetitions or “reps.” Lift the weight 10 times; take a nice break; then lift ten more times. That would be two sets of 10 reps. Start with a low number of reps so that you know you can finish all of the sets. Later on when those muscles become stronger, you can increase the number of reps and sets if you would like. When you write down what you just did, be sure to include the amount of weight you lifted as well as the sets and reps. Only increase the weight when you stop feeling the healthy muscular strain.
Cardio and flexibility exercises are a little more abstract to track. I would often write down the time I spent doing it and how far I got. Then I would also write a short description of how it felt. Was the stretch painful? Were you short-of-breath during that run? Little notes like that help make these notations a little more specific.