NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Making Time for Fitness During the School Year

GettyImages-1352437839With the new school year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about “back to school” fitness. Summer was a time for adventure, vacation, trying new foods, and so much more. Although all that stuff is fun, it can get us out of a routine. As a newly graduated college student, I know how much a routine helped me stay on track for my classes. One thing I always included was exercise. Having consistent workouts is the first step toward a disciplined life.

Studies show that working out consistently actually helps you stay with your schedule. When you plan specific times to exercise, you become more committed, and you can track your progress. When you see that you can stick to a workout schedule and are successful at it, you can start to change your view on other tasks in your life. When one area of your life becomes more manageable, it is easier to do the same with other aspects of your life.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Where do I even start?” Here are a couple of easy steps to making sure you create a workout routine that is a perfect fit for your schedule.

  1. Make fitness a priority: If fitness is important for you, you need to make time for it. Your health should always be your number-one priority. And as a wise person once said, “If you don’t make time for your health, you will make time for your illness." If working out is not one of your top priorities, it will not happen. If you really want to get the most out of it, you need to prioritize it.
  2. Be realistic: The key is to consistently do your best. Make sure you don’t sign up for too much. If you keep missing classes or training sessions because your schedule is too crazy, you’re going to get really discouraged when you don’t see the results you want. When starting a workout routine, start small. At NIFS we offer free classes to members throughout the week at different times (see the schedule here). This is a great way to get started, especially if you don’t know exactly where to start.
  3. Make goals: Making goals is one of the best ways to start your workout routine. If you know what you are working toward, you’re going to work harder to get it. Make sure these goals are SMART. This means that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This will help you track your progress and really see successful results.
  4. Time it right: Make sure you go to the gym at a time that is good for you. If you have a lot of morning classes, go in the afternoon or evening or vice versa. If you're more of a morning person, make sure you get up early in the morning and work out. If you know you have a lot of schoolwork, only work out for 30 minutes. When it comes to timing everything, make sure you come up with a good plan and discern when is the best time for you.
  5. Short workouts count, too: Everyone is busy and sometimes crazy schedules are what stop people from working out. People think that they need to train for 60 to 90 minutes straight or else they won’t see any results. Research shows that 10 to 15 minutes of training can be beneficial for people throughout the day. So, if you want to, you could do a quick 10-minute workout four times a day and you would have completed a 40-minute workout!
  6. Come prepared: Make it a habit to pack a gym bag before you go to classes or work. This way you can go straight to the gym without any additional trips that can get you sidetracked.
  7. Get in more daily fitness: You can get in easy workouts by just doing everyday things. For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk instead of taking the bus. These seem simple, but they add up over the course of the week. A study from The Ohio State University found that you can burn around 20% more calories by just altering your walking pace instead of keeping a consistent speed. You can even make sure you’re active over the weekend. Go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go hiking, or even play a game of baseball.
  8. Be accountable, but reasonable: Some days are going to be harder than others, and you’re just trying to tackle it all. There are going to be many days where you don’t honestly have the time or energy to work out, and that’s okay! When those days happen, allow yourself to miss. But make sure you get moving the next day. Although you don’t want to create the habit of not working out, give yourself room to be human.

Working out does not have to be a scary or daunting thing. Make the most out of it and make it yours! Trying to balance school and fitness can be a lot, but it’s totally doable. Whether you are a student or parent of a student, do your best and keep pushing toward your goals!

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This blog was written by Emily Lesich, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting group fitness college school fall time management exercise plan workout plan

Get with the Program: 5 Benefits of Having an Exercise Plan

Kris_Personal Training“Success favors the prepared” is one of my favorite quotes highlighting what it takes to be successful in life and any pursuit that interests you. Without preparation and planning, effort and action really have no direction, which can result in you being lost. I would also offer that a misguided workout plan, although it’s a plan you didn’t have before, can be just as detrimental to your success. So having an exercise plan is really important, but having a solid and well-thought-out plan is super important!

Don’t confuse movement with progress when it comes to your weekly and daily training. Getting to the gym is step one, but what you do with your time there will be the difference between achievement and disappointment. We don’t usually argue the benefits of writing down your goals; it’s important and can usually lead to reaching those goals. You have heard me say many times “if you think it, ink it.” Why don’t we do that with our exercise programs? Goals give you your destination; your training program is the roadmap that can get you there. A well-designed map can get you there more quickly and safely.

So get with the program! Or should I say, get with a professional about your program. A well-trained and educated coach’s eye can be a game changer when working toward your fitness goals. The guidance they can provide is crucial to your development and ability to reach new heights. Named number 6 on the ACSM fitness trends list, educated and experienced fitness professionals remain an important commodity to you and the rest of the public. Utilize them!

And here are five more benefits of following an exercise program that is designed specifically for you by a fitness pro.

No More Guessing

Having a plan of attack takes the guesswork out of your workout. Fitness centers can be overwhelming at times; and with the amount of information and opinions that are out there, without a plan you could find yourself kind of meandering around not getting a lot of work done. I also think that not having a clear direction can lead to low confidence, resulting in an increased rate of giving up. Getting a program is not just a list of great exercises to do; it can act as your ticket to an “I CAN DO IT” mindset instead of “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll skip it today.” Which mindset do you think is the more successful one?

Proper Techniques and Principles: Injury Prevention

Mike_Personal Training“Move well then move often” is a great quote from the folks over at FMS and one that we carry as our motto around here. Performing exercises correctly that are based on safe and proper movement principles will be the difference between reaching your goals and being laid up for weeks because of an injury due to improper technique or progression. You can’t work if you are injured, and no one should be injured in fitness. But people get hurt all the time due to improper exercise technique and poor guidance. And if you don’t get hurt, you will definitely not receive all the great benefits of an exercise if you are performing it poorly. A great coach can design a program and provide the technical support you need to execute it well. Move well, move often! You get only one body; don’t you want to keep it running for a long time?

Progress Tracking

With a personal program design, you have your record-keeping right in front of you. Whether you are a paper-and-pencil person or a tech-savvy individual, logging your exercises, loads, intensity levels, and rate of perceived exertion is the best way to keep an eye on your progress. And believe me, when you see the weights go up, so does your confidence level and positive mindset.

Just as you wrote out your goals and the benefits of that process, logging your efforts is the next step. How do you know you are heading in the right direction if you don’t document the journey? Seeing is believing, and what better way to see the progress than to log the important variables that make up your program?

Keeping It Fresh

A great fitness pro will be able to design programming for you that is always progressing as you do, and will include different exercises and intensities to continually add new challenges. New stimulus equals new results; that’s just how the body works. After a certain amount of time, your body will no longer have to adapt to the previous stimulus, and with no adaption, there are no results. Also, keeping your program evolving will increase the enjoyment factor, leading to greater adherence to the exercise program. Nobody wants to do the same old thing over and over again. If variety is the spice of life, let a new fitness program be the chili powder!

Challenge Preconceived Limits

One of the main jobs of a great coach is to demonstrate to an individual that they are far more capable than their mindset tells them. A personal fitness program that includes all of the above, designed specifically for you, will take you out of that box you have been living in and prove to you that you are stronger than anyone (including yourself) gave you credit for. I have worked with so many who believed that they were supposed to reside on an elliptical machine for their workout and prove to themselves that they are an athlete and love to move. Working with a fitness pro to develop your specific program can unlock the physical potential that has been waiting to be shown the world!

Most of us have heard the ageless quote from Ben Franklin: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Without a proper fitness program that fits your needs and works toward your specific goals, failure is a very real outcome. Like most aspects of our lives, a solid plan of attack usually leads to success. Why should we treat our health and fitness differently? Get with the program and be ready for the results!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: injury prevention goals tracking fitness exercise plan workout plan fitness professional fitness program coach