A healthy lifestyle should be encouraged across all age groups, but the sooner in life we practice and begin to develop the habits, the more likely we are to have it grounded into our daily life. University is particularly a time where many young adults begin to form long lasting behavioural lifestyles, so it becomes a crucial period of reinforcement for engaging and maintaining an active lifestyle.
The average university student spends over seven hours a day sitting down. This number has increased consistently in the last 10 years. Considering that most of the sedentary time students are spending is on studying and academic work, it is integral that students do not focus on reducing the amount of time they spend sitting down, but dedicate a proportionate amount of time engaging in physical activity.
Students are also increasingly dedicating more of their leisure time to screen related activities that involve more sitting down. A first step in reducing sedentary behaviour can be to carve out a portion of your leisure time for physical activity. This can involve going to the fitness center, taking part in intramurals or varsity sports, or even just popping in your headphones and going for a walk!
Another easy way to combat sedentary behaviour is to break up long periods that you will be sitting; instead of studying for four hours straight, try doing 25 minute intervals of studying. Then, for every 25 minutes, take a five minute break and challenge yourself to walk around the house, or do a set of jumping jacks. Small breaks of light physical activity, even if followed by another period of sitting down, can significantly reduce the negative effects of extended periods of sitting down.
Another, more passive way of combating our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is to actively choose ways around it. For example, instead of driving to campus, you can try walking. You can even start off with a simplified version–drive half way, and walk the other half.
The reality is that most students cannot combat a sedentary lifestyle with fancy equipment such as a standing or treadmill desk (let’s face it, student loans are already enough of a financial burden for many). This makes it even more important to begin to actively develop habits to ensure that we are moderating our time sitting down with a decent amount of time engaging in some form of physical activity.
There are a number of ways to incorporate exercise into your day through options offered within Mt. A and the Sackville Community. Using the fitness center, the Athletic Center swimming pool, wellness walks through Navigate, or lunch time skate through the Town of Sackville are all refreshing options to be explored to help you maintain an active lifestyle!