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Struggling to Stay Fit as a Busy College Student [Advice]

My response to the tweets

Struggling to Stay Fit as a Busy Uni Student [Twitter Advice]

Last updated on March 8th, 2017

A university freshman and long-time reader tweeted me for advice. He felt drained at the end of the day and was falling off his fitness routine. He wanted to know how he could keep his energy levels high (presumably to stay fit and cope with school).

I believe this is something we can all relate to. Yet, living a fit lifestyle is more than just keeping your energy levels high. So, I decided to respond with this article.

These were his tweets.

im falling off, university started, i feel drained at the end of the day; i dont eat as much as i should and all and now im

i dont eat like i should and all, not always as much sleep either; anyways im not getting fatter like i was afraid to

 how you keep your energy lvls high with a students lifestyle?

I’m falling off, university started. I feel drained at the end of the day; I dont eat as much as I should and all and now I’m […]

I don’t eat like I should and all, not always as much sleep either; anyways I’m not getting fatter like I was afraid to […]

How (do) you keep your energy levels high with a students lifestyle?

Response to Mini-ghost Nike (on student life)

Feeling drained at the end of your day? Take a deep breathe, relax, and welcome to adulthood. Everything is going to be fine.

And you will make fitness work in your life. Believe it!

Unfortunately, feeling drained and tired is going to be the norm, even when you begin working. In fact, it will probably be worse. I’m saying this based on my experiences in both university and full-time work.

I personally fell off fitness during university when juggling freelance work and studying. But got back to it when I was working full-time.

So, as much as you want to lead a lifestyle of fitness, responsibilities will get in the way. And when you have the time for it, you won’t feel like training due to lethargy.

Nonetheless, how do so many people make fitness training work despite their hectic schedules – students and working professionals alike? And it is NOT only a matter of maintaining high energy levels. It is so much more than that.

Here are five things you need to settle to make fitness work for you, as a uni student.

1. Get your basic needs right (while getting used to uni)

Eating right

One, when you get your basic needs right, your mental state usually works itself out.

You’ve just started university and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. It will take time for you to adjust to your new schedule and lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean you neglect your basic needs of eating right, sleeping well and hydrating yourself.

To be honest, your energy levels and fatigue probably worsened because you’ve been skipping meals and sleeping less. Don’t expect high energy levels when you haven’t been taking care of your basic needs.

2. Adapt your fitness goals to limitations in time

Plan your schedule and account for time limits

Two, take a look at your schedule and evaluate your fitness goals. Be realistic based on your limits.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve? And figure out how you can make that happen within your limitations in time and energy. It is all about finding solutions.

Too tired to workout at night? Sleep earlier and workout in the morning.

Can’t fit in one hour of workout during weekdays? Break your workout session into several 20 minute chunks, in-between classes.

3. Don’t give in to energy lows – You don’t have to feel like doing it, to do it

Ignore energy lows and force yourself to train

Three, your body goes through a cycle of energy highs and lows. Ignore your thoughts coming from the low energy cycles.

For example, if you can only find time to workout in the evening, try this.

The moment you reach your dorm, get changed into workout gear and get out. Don’t sit around and let your mind think about how tired it is. That was how I made things work.

The feelings of fatigue subside once your heart rate is raised.

Note: Ignore this if you have a medical condition. Seek a doctors advice.

4. When you are unusually tired, listen to your body

Be Spontaneous

There are days when you are honestly too drained to get a proper workout in. No workout plans at all. Be spontaneous.

The last thing you want to do is to psyche yourself out further with a strenuous 3-hour workout plan. So, let your body guide you into doing what you want to physically.

On such days, I force myself to get out of the house and be spontaneous. I’ve done obstacle-based training, rather than calisthenics repetitions. I go to a playground with monkey bars and go through the motion of swinging through while doing pull ups and leg raises. I practice rolls and do crawls.

And if I’m really that tired. I try to get 20 minutes of spontaneous activity and rest.

This break in routine usually works out much better.

5. Is your way of fitness actually fun?

Lastly, I’m getting the sense that you are working out just to look good physically. You seem to have lost the sense of fun.

“anyways im not getting fatter like i was afraid to”

College wrestling for fitness

I’ve mentioned before in this post that working out solely for aesthetics is boring for most people. There just isn’t an intrinsic value to continue once you hit your goals.

Instead, find a sport or routine that gets you excited. Restore the element of fun in your workouts. And this usually happens when you are training for skill rather than looks.

Consider this. When you were a child, would you look forward to a game of tag or a monotonous exercise routine? Probably the game, yes? Even if you are feeling sleepy.

What makes you think that being an adult is any different. Do what you enjoy for fitness and you will want to do it at the end of the day.

Bonus: Enjoy your life as a University student

You are only going to be young once. Live in the moment and make the best of your time at university.

Further Advice

If you notice, I have talked about many of these factors in my previous articles before. Here are a few that will help you in your situation.

About Logen Lanka 174 Articles
Logen is a the founder and editor of WayOfNinja.com. Before his shoulder injury, he was actively involved in street calisthenics, Aikido and obstacle course racing. He has also served his 2-years conscription with the Singapore Armed Forces as an Armoured Infantry Trooper.
  • Joelle White

    LOL, this advice applies to new parents too 🙂 Wise words, Logen!