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Looking for a life boost? Ninety percent of students say physical activity is where it’s at, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. This makes sense: Consistent physical activity means more energy, improved academic performance, a better mood, and less stress—according to research—and that stuff matters when you’re trying to own a new school year. But when you’re knee-deep in the periodic table or frantically memorizing Shakespeare soliloquies, fitness can sometimes get left behind. We get it. So how do you make it all work?
Have a little faith. Students who believe they can make it happen are more likely to be active, according to a 2015 study. Right. But how? Behavioral research shows us: Figure out what works for you, keep your goals realistic, and create a specific plan that anticipates what might get in the way.
Student Health 101 joined up with Bette Vargas, a certified personal trainer and wellness coach, to show us how to get there. In half an hour, you can put together your own killer fitness plan and set yourself up for a dynamic, low-stress semester.
|Bette Vargas is a certified personal trainer at the University of California, San Francisco.|
Got fitness goals? Plan it out
More than 70 percent of students surveyed by Student Health 101 say they’re thinking about how they’re going to move more this semester. Awesome. But what happens when school picks up and your time gets eaten by homework, projects, college prep, clubs, parents, life? Take your plan one step further—start identifying the stuff that blocks you from being the next ninja warrior (or just an awesome active person), and think about how you’ll overcome it.
Vargas suggests jotting down the answers to a few open-ended questions, such as:
- What are some activities that I enjoy that keep me moving?
- What keeps me from being more active or from participating in a particular sport or activity?
- What might help me feel better about the idea of moving more?
No sharing required, but honesty is recommended, she says. “At the end of the day, no one is going to see that information but you.”
Once you’ve checked in with your inner obstacles, it’s time to figure out how to work through them. Use our worksheet below to help you get there.
1. Copy or print out the worksheet to fill out your plan. Start thinking about the possibilities and record your answers to the following questions:
- What’s nearby? (For example: The park)
- How much time do I have? (30 minutes)
- What do I like? (Hanging out with friends)
- What could I try? (Arranging to meet friends at the park for a Frisbee® or beginner’s parkour session)
- What can I spend? ($10 on a new Frisbee or $0 for parkour)
- What motivates me? (Getting weird with my friends and not feeling like I’m running the mile)
- What are my realistic goals? (To be active with my friends for at least 30 minutes, twice a week)
- What roadblocks might I run into? (After-school obligations, homework, falling on my face when I try parkour for the first time)
2. Go back through your plan, highlight your best options, and figure out what needs to happen first (e.g., researching options, talking with your friends, getting gear, making sure you schedule homework time around the activity).
3. Finalize your activities by setting dates and adding them to your calendar or planner. Share your plan with others so you’re less likely to flake out.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds (or looks). Parkour is just about finding creative ways to overcome obstacles in your environment. You don’t have to flip and handstand your way from one obstacle to the next. Get started by seeing how efficiently you can run, jump, and climb over and around small obstacles. As you get more comfortable, challenge yourself to take it up a notch; just make sure you’ve got the basic moves down first. Check out “The beginner’s guide to parkour” from Nerd Fitness for tips.
Bette Vargas, certified personal trainer, wellness coach, and owner of Vargas Fitness Enterprises, University of California, San Francisco.
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