As a collective group, college students are a busy bunch. Between classes, clubs, intramurals, Greek life, homework, a social life, work, and trying to get enough sleep, working out often falls on the back burner.
College, though incredibly fun, is one of the most stressful times in many young adults’ lives and studies have shown that running can reduce stress and improve cognitive function. “Fifty-three percent of teens say they feel good about themselves after exercising, 40 percent say it puts them in a good mood and 32 percent say they feel less stressed after exercising. Regardless, one in five teens (20 percent) report exercising less than once a week or not at all,” according to the American Psychological Association.
So, how can students fit this important but time consuming task in their busy daily lives? It starts with commitment and prioritization. I am a Junior at Drake University and have been running daily since Freshman year of high school. I found that on days that I exercised, I felt less anxious, tolerated negative situations better, and was overall more pleasant and productive. Because of this, I wake up 30 to 40 minutes earlier each morning to go outside and run. At this point, many people could argue that sleep also makes people feel better and I am missing out on sleep. Like every commitment, it is important to manage your time in order to be successful and get everything done. This is no different with running. Once you have committed, it becomes an important part of the daily routine. Although hard at first, your body will adjust and both your body and mind will thank you later.
Tips and Tricks
Running can be very hard on your body. Because of this, I suggest cross training. I try to mix it up with an exercise class, lifting, swimming, or biking a few times a week instead. It is also important to run a variety of distances and speeds.
College students as a whole tend to eat at odd times because of their odd schedules. Running will add another obstacle with monitoring food intake because it will cause you to be hungrier and you have to be careful about eating right before going on a run. According to ChiRunning, before you run, you should eat something your system can easily absorb, like a banana, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter or honey, or a handful of dried fruit. This can also be hard to find with the limited selection most college stores and cafeterias have to offer. Foods such as peanut butter or dried fruit can be bought in bulk, though, so it will not require an excessive amount of grocery store runs. Along with this, drink water, stretch before and after the run, and buy and wear supportive shoes that work for your body and feet.
Before a run, come up with an upbeat playlist to keep you motivated and entertained. Long runs can get tedious but if you have some great jams or an interesting podcast, it will be done before you know it. You can even get your textbook or class book on tape! It is so important for college students to take time to care for themselves and running is a perfect way to start.