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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Exercise for free

Even though many will think exercising as a non-essential, it is not; exercise is preventive in physical health to keep you well and improve your immune system. It lets you dispel stress and therefore improves your mental health.  It gives you a physical break from studying and helps you concentrate.  The adrenaline and other good-feeling hormones release elevates your mood and wards off depression (which is more common than one would like to admit in university).  Exercise is part of healthy living and will help you finish your degree faster with higher grades, and make you feel better so that you can keep on living frugally.  Exercise is therefore a tool to saving money.
However, one must figure out how to exercise for free or at least very cheaply.  The fancy membership to the gym are not in most students’ budget, but luckily, college and university are well equipped with cheap or free facilities for students.  So check out which facilities your tuition and student fees entitle you to use, and use them; they can include an indoor pool, a weight room, racquetball and squash courts, etc..  However, if you are not going to use them because they are not the type of sports you enjoy, then opt-out of the fees so you can get reimburse for something you will not use.

There are lots of simple exercises you can do inside your room – push ups, situps, planches, and lunges for muscle building (you can add small weight to increase resistance); splits and other stretches to increase flexibility; and an aerobic routine from Youtube for cardio.  These may not be exactly motivating, but they work.  You can download ideas and charts from the internet for staying motived.
Going outside (as long as the weather permits) to walk, run, and bicycle lets you enjoy the fresh air and some nature scenery.  As well, these activities are cheap (save for basic equipment) and they do not need you to go somewhere first to exercise – the minute you are outside, you can start exercising. You can also use them as forms of transportation, combining exercise time with commuting time.  

If you thrive better in a group environment, there are many sports-based clubs that are cheap or free to join at most college and university campuses: from ballet to ultimate Frisbee, from curling to water polo, these are all sports available to students at a discounted price.  Most clubs also have a couple of free classes for those who want to try (typically in September) before they sign up.
Remember, investing a small amount of money in your health and fitness will keep your medical budget (medicine, OT, PT) to a minimum; as well, remember that getting sick keeps you away from classes and studying, which can lead to lower grades, loss of scholarship, delayed graduation, etc.  So keep fit and healthy!

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