Fresh. Fit. Focused.: Fitting exercise into your busy college schedule

Melissa Schmitz, Staff Writer

The least attractive aspect of fitness for a lot of people is trying to fit it into your schedule on a regular basis. I certainly sympathize with that struggle. I’ll have a solid workout routine for one semester; then, with classes rearranged into a less-than-ideal set-up, all comes crashing down. It happens. Sometimes new things take getting used to, but you can start a solid workout regime if you take the time to plan it out right.

I’m definitely an advocate of morning workouts. I can hear the groans as I type this, but I’m serious! Mornings are a great time to work out for a number of reasons. The first is obvious: you get up and will not waste your day sleeping. I would rather wake up early on a Saturday morning and go to bed slightly earlier than wake up at 4 p.m. and have my sleep schedule ruined from then on. Exercise actually helps regulate your sleep cycle anyway, so really, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

The second reason I think mornings are a great time to work out is the lack of excuses you can make for yourself. If you wait until the evening to workout, you’ll probably have homework that you need to get done and will skip the workout [or find a number of other excuses that come throughout the day]. The best way to avoid this is to get it done as early as possible. Perhaps you have an 8:30 a.m. class, and you’ve never been good at waking up much earlier than that, but have a four-hour gap in the afternoon. Go then! It doesn’t need to be right away, but the earlier you do it, the better.

Lastly, morning workouts get you ready for the day. Not only do they force you to get up, but working out actually wakes you up. I’m talking the difference between shutting off your alarm at 7 a.m., going to the bathroom, then going back to bed for “five more minutes,” and actually staying awake for the day. I realize that some Syracuse mornings don’t exactly encourage early rising. The first morning I decided to wake up at 7 a.m. daily, it was raining and gray, so… I went back to bed. But if you can force yourself to get out of bed and head to the gym, you will probably want to stay there and finish your workout.

If mornings simply won’t work out for you, then hope is not lost! While motivation might be lacking late in the evening, it can be done. But in the evening, due to your other priorities, it may take some more discipline, so be prepared for that. Maybe to help you keep on track, you can make it a habit to work out right before your nightly shower, or you might even convince a friend to go with you.

Whatever it is you do, consider how often you will workout: don’t feel as though you need to go every day. Even if you start out once a week, that’s better than not at all. Maybe you will consider trying only weekends if your schedule seems too overwhelming. Many people like to go three to four days a week. For me, six to seven days a week is the best way to keep on schedule. Just choose something that you know you can stick to, and go from there.

What’s most important is that you choose something that will work for you. Don’t feel pressured into doing more than you know you can just because someone else is doing it, or else you may quit completely. Take it one step at a time, and you will reach your goals eventually.