Monday, May 23, 2016

8 Ways To Stay Fit In Grad School

Shoes: Asics | Top: Wal-Mart | Shorts: Nike | Fitbit: Charge HR

In college it seemed so much easier to keep a workout schedule. I always lived close to the rec center or a workout facility and I had so much more free time! Now in grad school I work from 8-5, usually later every day. When I get home I have other obligations that come with being an adult living on your own. Plus, my days can be really exhausting if I'm going from the third floor to the basement and back up to the third floor, running between the labs, and basically just doing my job. It's no wonder I get home and want to go straight to bed!

But that's no excuse for never being active. Everyone always says that if you're truly committed, you will make the time to workout. Of course there are those weeks where I'm running samples from 8 am until 11 pm (that actually happened one week and it was awful and I swore I would never do it again) or where I'm just plain busy so working out just doesn't happen like I want it to. But over the course of my three years in grad school, I've found a few ways to stay active and stay fit even while working 50-80 hour weeks!

1. Use the buddy system!!! I'm really competitive when I workout so having someone else there who I'm trying to beat (it's silly I know) makes it easier. I hate looking like a slacker so if they're going to the gym, I'm going to the gym. Plus talking to someone while you workout makes time go by so much faster!

2. Get a Fitbit. I bit the bullet back in January when I used some Christmas money to finally join the Fitbit world (have you noticed I wear it every single day?). You can set it to alert you when you haven't walked a certain number of steps in an hour. Plus, having a goal you're trying to reach (steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned) can really motivate you to move around.

3. Take a walk at lunch. Working from early morning to late at night? Take a walk on your lunch break. Even if you inhale your food at your desk, get outside for 20 minutes and walk. Or take laps up and down the halls in your building. I can't tell you the number of times I've around every floor in my building just to move around.

4. Invest in a fitness pass. Many schools count grad students has half-faculty (the other half is student...duh). Miami is really great at this: this summer they've given grad students a discount on fitness classes (nearly 30% off!). Once you invest money into your workout, you're more likely to keep up with it. As a poor grad student, I want to make sure all of my money gets used well and isn't wasted, so if I buy a fitness pass for the summer, you can bet I'll be in those fitness classes.

5. Set realistic goals. If you spend all day in lab, don't expect to get home and run 10 miles. Unless you're a seasoned marathoner, that probably won't happen (but I'm jealous if you can do that and please let me know you're secret). On the days you're working late, either take a walk at lunch or after dinner or do some workouts on Youtube at home. Save the long runs and grueling workouts for days that are a little lighter in the lab.

6. Play sports. I love summer because a group of grad students play sand volleyball twice a week. It's a great way to get moving and burn off some energy. Plus, it's the perfect time to bond with your fellow grad students! Other sports you can try are soccer, kickball, slow-pitch softball, or tag football. Many schools also have intramurals in the spring and fall that you can be part of too.

7. Don't be afraid to change your routine. If your school is anything like Miami, the rec center is packed in the evenings between 4 and 8. That was when I always worked out in college. But now I've had to change my routine and get to the gym by 6:30 in the morning (ugh). It isn't my favorite and I can be a grouch if I'm especially tired, but it's nice getting my workout done for the day and avoiding the mad rush of undergrads.

8. Buy new workout clothes. It's so true that when you buy something new, it's all you want to use. The same thing happens with workout clothes. If you buy a cute and comfy tank top and some great shorts, you're likely going to want an excuse to wear them. What better place than at the gym?

However you want to do it, staying active in grad school is so important!! It's time for you to re-focus and re-energize. Grad school is so demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally. But in the words of Elle Woods "Exercising gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands - they just don't."

What are you favorite ways to stay active in school (or your busy life)?


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