5 ways to get fit this year
A healthy adult devotes at least 150 minutes a week to aerobic activity, according to guidelines published by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. But many of us don’t.
For one thing, the National College Health Assessment survey revealed recently that only 40.3 per cent of Canadian students are meeting recommended exercise levels.
Why wait for the back-to-school crush? It’s never too early to start getting in shape. Here are five key pieces of advice from Concordia’s health and fitness experts:
1. Leave your comfort zone
Get out of your house and get moving! Not sure what to do? Try ice skating at the Ed Meagher Arena, or join a pick-up game of shinny hockey, basketball or soccer during free time at one of Concordia’s athletic facilities. Le Gym offers classes for almost every fitness level and inclination, from spinning to belly dancing. Registration for fall sessions is now open.
“There's no reason not to be active,” says Daniel Roy, Le Gym’s manager. “Just playing a sport once or twice a week is a great way to stay in shape.”
Even for certified fitness buffs, it’s important to switch things up. Do you normally stick to strength training? Sign up for kickboxing.
Roy recommends “thinking outside the box.” For example, he suggests trying the new High Gear aerobics class this fall. The circuit-style workout will be held every Sunday at 5 p.m.
"It's good to change things up!”
2. Make a plan
Even if you have very little free time, there are always ways to fit in exercise.
“Any physical activity benefits the body and is better than no physical activity,” says Gabriella Szabo, health promotion specialist at Concordia’s Health Services.
“If you can’t do 30 minutes of exercise, can you do 10? Take every chance you get to move more. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walk to the copier that is further from your desk and do a few stretches every 90 minutes at your computer.”
3. Set goals
Setting personal objectives is a great way to get results from your workout. Challenge yourself to complete a chin-up, or run up the stairs to your office in under a minute.
When it comes to being active, commitment is key, Szabo says.
“How do we build commitment? One way is to make the goal very important to you by tying it to your values and other life goals. For example, you could remind yourself that taking the stairs instead of the elevator reduces your environmental footprint.”
Health Services offers a guide on how to set, achieve and maintain fitness goals.
4. Chart your progress
“Once you’ve set your fitness goals, it’s important to have a way to document them, so you can tell if you’re on track,” Szabo explains.
Log the weights you use and the number of repetitions you complete. Count kilometres, minutes, laps and high kicks.
According to Roy, people who are trying to get in shape for aesthetic reasons often spend too much time looking in the mirror for affirmation.
“You want to look good, but that shouldn’t be the main objective,” he says. “You need tangible fitness goals, so you can actually see results.”
A fitness goal should be action-oriented (“I will be active at moderate intensity for 30 minutes four times a week”), rather than focusing on weight loss or muscle definition.
5. Find a friend
There’s nothing like the presence of others to keep you motivated.
Don’t go it alone. Concordia’s intramural sport leagues start their season in the fall, but creating an atmosphere of positive peer pressure can be as simple as finding a gym buddy or setting up a session with a personal trainer.
Even professionals like Roy seek outside advice when they build their exercise routines.
“I’m probably the worst judge of my own performance and movements,” he says. “And it’s also good for me because I learn things from my trainer and my co-workers that I can use with my clients.”
Per-hour student prices for personal training services at Le Gym are $30, and $35 for staff and the general public. Taxes not included. Find out more.
Student Services has health promotion specialists who can help you on your journey to healthier living. Contact them to book a free appointment.