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How Physical Activity Can Improve Your Personal Wellbeing

Getting yourself moving while at university can be a great way to improve your mood and get you out of those inevitable slump moments

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Image Credit: Jack Corbertt

Taking care of your mental health is always important, but when you experience a big change in your life such as moving to university, or returning after six months at home, it is crucial that you check the state of your mental health. Like with your physical health, your mental health experiences change and it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of it. A great way to support your mental health is through physical activity, and while this cannot cure any problems you may be experiencing, many studies show how just simply moving your body can greatly improve your mood, memory and general sense of wellbeing.

If you find yourself feeling anxious, tense, or just a bit low, exercise can make a massive difference to your mental health; helping you to relax by releasing the tension in your muscles and helping the production of hormones and neurotransmitters that have a positive impact on your mood. However, there is no point choosing an activity that you do not enjoy in an attempt to lift your mood, and you don’t have to go out of your comfort zone to do so. Here are a few recommendations of things you can do at university, on your own or with others, to give a go if you need a bit of a boost.

Go on a walk
Walking is one of the easiest activities to add to your weekly routine and doesn’t really feel like you’re doing any strenuous physical activity. Just grabbing your flat and going for a walk around campus is a great way to get yourself outside and moving, socialising with your flat and learning your way around – which took me far too long to learn. Doing your physical activity with others is often a great way to make sure you do some form of activity every day as you can encourage each other, and having another person around always makes it more enjoyable.

Home Workout
If it’s a rainy day and you want to do a bit of moving, or you just don’t feel like going outside, a quick home workout is another option. YouTube really is your best friend here, just search for ‘10min full-body workout’ and thousands of videos will appear.  This can be done alone in your room or you can invite a friend round to do one together or even have a laugh and attempt one as a flat in the kitchen. You can always make your own by choosing a selection of exercises and setting up a timer.

I always add star-jumps to my workouts as they don’t feel like a proper adult exercise but are really good at working your whole body.

Running/Jogging
Running is famous for its mood-lifting ability, coining the popular phrase ‘runners’ high’. While at first running seems like a daunting thing, running around the playground was the norm to us as children so with the same logic should be second nature as adults. When starting running it’s important to remember that you’re doing it for you, so run at whatever speed you like, and you do not have to share your distance and time with people if you do not want to. Running around and between the campuses is a nice route, especially around the lake at dusk.

The Nike running app is a great way of recording your distance and time.

Courts at York Sport
At York Sport you can hire badminton, squash, tennis, and table tennis courts without being a member. While this activity does cost a little, they are all really fun ways to get your body moving and relieve a bit of stress in a really strong swing! Availability and use will be in line with government guidelines, so check the website for more information.

Cycling
Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise and an easy way to explore more of York – a cycle-friendly city with many paths throughout the city. Just out of Heslington there are some beautiful country roads to cycle along and escape from campus and the city, if that’s what you need. If you don’t have a bike, the university has a ‘Pool Bike Scheme’ where you can hire bikes for travel between the University’s main campus at Heslington and the University’s other sites for recreation and commuting.

These are just a few simple ways to try and keep yourself moving while at university. If you start to feel yourself getting into a bit of a slump in those first few months of Uni, give one a go and see how it makes you feel!

My personal favourite thing to do to brighten my mood is a five-minute dance party in my room – I recommend this highly.

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