Why I make time for exercise, and why you should too!

As university students, we can get so busy we don’t know which way is up. Attending lectures and classes, maintaining a social life, and working while studying; can be a difficult juggling act! With so much going on it’s easy to throw in the towel on making time for exercise.

It may not come as a surprise that ‘not having time’ is one of the most used excuses not to exercise. Let’s be real; when you don’t feel like exercising you can come up with all kinds of excuses. You don’t have time. You’re too tired.  So on, and so on. But exercising regularly has way too many benefits for us to pretend these are good enough reasons to not get active.

Here are some of my motivations for making time to exercise, and some tips on how to overcome the common obstacles that can stop you from getting active as a university student.

What motivates me to exercise

It keeps my brain and mind healthy

As you’ve probably heard from every personal trainer, gym junkie, and exercise science student like myself - exercise is good for your brain....and your mind! It releases healthy chemicals called endorphins into your brain which instantly gives you a positive mental boost. Studies have also found exercise improves brain function and boosts learning and memory. What uni student wouldn’t love their brain to function better, especially during exams!

It keeps my body healthy

Taking care of your body can help you cope better with the demands of university life. A healthy body supports a healthy mind and promotes positive well-being. Exercise and good nutrition (yes, I had to bring in nutrition as an exercise and nutrition sciences student!) are both important in maintaining a healthy body. When you take care of your body, it may then reward you with higher overall productivity and subsequently, better academic performance. It’s really a no-brainer!

It is a good way to relieve stress

Let’s face it, whilst university is fun and exciting, it can also be stressful. Stress is a natural feeling designed to help us cope in challenging situations. A little bit of stress can be good sometimes as it can push you to work harder. But too much stress is not good and can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It can also negatively affect academic performance which is something we definitely don’t want! The good news is that regular exercise can help prevent and manage stress, enabling us to cope with student life more effectively.


How to overcome common obstacles to exercising

I don’t have time

Ahhh the most common excuse of all! Exercise means different things to different people. If you think that exercise is one hour a day, five days a week, and you are at uni and work for 40–60 hours per week with social duties in between, then you don’t have time to do THIS sort of exercise. But what if you changed your mindset to consider that exercise is more of a deliberate attempt to move your body more often. Looking at it this way, no matter how busy you are, you have time to exercise.

What might this look like you ask? Perhaps you could take a walk between lectures, wake up 20 minutes early to do a workout before starting your day, walk or ride to uni or work, do some push-ups or squats whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or duck off to the gym during your lunch break. There are lots of ways to incorporate more exercise into your day – you just need to be creative about it.

I’m too tired

I get it. After a long day at uni the last thing you want to think about is working out. But doing something active when you’re tired can boost energy levels and reduce fatigue. Rather than totally skipping exercise if you’re feeling tired, try doing a shorter workout, or something less strenuous than you usually would, like a 20-minute walk or relaxing yoga session. However, if you really don’t feel up to it, don’t feel guilty.  Take a rest day and recharge your batteries!

I can’t afford it

Exercise can be cheap (literally, free!). Walking, running, bike riding…there are many ways you can exercise without spending a cent. A number of gyms also offer special student rates. Joining a social sports club can also be a very affordable option and a great way to make new friends! Home workouts were made trendy during lockdowns and are another cost-effective way of getting in exercise without a gym membership. Luckily with the popularity of social media, there are a huge variety of free workout videos and guides to follow along at home!

I don’t like exercise

Exercise isn’t a one size fits all approach. That’s why it’s great that there are so many different options. You have to find the exercise that’s right for you. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, try something new. Better yet, make friends with an exercise science student and convince them to be your workout buddy or write you a workout routine. Exercise science students make awesome workout buddies (biased opinion I know).

Are you thinking about studying exercise or nutrition sciences? Explore the options that are available to you.

You may also be interested in reading:

How physical activity can help you manage your health while studying
Five healthy habits to look after your mental health at university
How to avoid and deal with university burnout


Last updated:
22 May 2023