Winter blues? Get active!

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Winter blues are looming! Although the weather seems to be on a summery mad one recently, winter is fast approaching and the cold, dark nights are drawing in closer and closer every day. Unfortunately for us students, winter can only mean one thing, illness. If it’s just a common cold that’s got you bunged up for a day or two, that annoying chesty cough that keeps you awake all night or a full blown bout of fresher’s flu that leaves you bed bound and feeling sorry for yourself for days on end, student illness is inevitable.

It sounds like total doom and gloom from November on out, but there is one quick, easy, relatively painless and optionally free solution to avoiding these annoying winter illnesses. Exercise. Research has proven that one of the best ways to fight off and resist the common cold and other germs is to get up, get active and get moving. As well as helping to ward off major and long term illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and obesity, exercise has been shown to relieve symptoms of the smaller ailments too. Findings have proved that regular cardio-vascular exercise (running, jogging, rowing, biking etc.) is one of the best ways to boost the immune system and fight infections.

I understand that getting up early for a jog in the freezing cold may not sound like the best of fun, especially on a Saturday morning after a heavy night in Lollipop but honestly, it works. Exercise, when done correctly, ‘jump-starts’ the immune system and increases the number of and aggressiveness of the body’s infection killing cells by 50-300% over a short period of time. A regular and steady physical exercise plan can help the body to fight off viral infections by over 30% meaning that you are less likely to become ill and feel terrible in the cold weather. Paired with a healthy, balanced diet (although it is difficult to achieve as a student), winter can be faced without the need for fifteen packets of Lemsip and a shed load of tissues.

Trying to stay active as well as being a student is difficult. Trying to balance lectures, sleep, eating, work, having a social life as well as the 250 other things that you do is a pain, but between the ages of 19-64, adults should be exercising moderately 30 minutes per day as well as 2 weight and strength based sessions per week. Not everyone will be able to fit this into their week, but there are simple changes that you can make your daily routines that can help you out:

1- Walk or cycle to Uni, instead of driving or getting the bus.

It’s simple, not only will you be saving money on your fare but you will also be incorporating a lot of movement with the smallest amount of effort. If you do live too far away from Uni to do this, just get off the bus earlier instead of staying on until the final stop. The fresh air in the morning will also help to jump start your immune systems, and metabolism for the day which will help you to burn more calories and fight more germs.

2- Take the stairs, not the lift.

Consider it, anyone who has been in the Weymouth house lifts has feared for their life, and no doubt it is the same in the other buildings. Is it really necessary for you to take the lift for one floor? Probably not, and there will be a maximum of 30 steps per floor which honestly isn’t too bad.

3- Consider taking a group exercise class.

If it’s spinning, yoga, Pilates or body pump, group classes are the easiest way to get active. Make it a weekly thing, build it into your routine. There are many classes offered at sportBU (find them here) that cater to everybody’s needs. If you don’t want to do it alone, get your housemates involved, because by them doing exercise and fighting viruses too, you’re twice less likely to catch the illness.

4- Join a team or start playing sport.

In and around Uni there are 100’s of sports teams, clubs and societies for everyone to join. You don’t have to be a professional, you may not have to pay a lot of money but if you have the time, try something new out. Not only will the extra exercise help you to get active, but it will also provide a cathartic stress relief from Uni life, which can be tough at times.

5- Go to the gym.

The newly refurbished Uni gym is the best place to get active. With a reduced rate student membership available, it is highly affordable and well equipped for everyone’s fitness requirements. If you can’t afford the gym membership, try and get active on your own. Going for a run, jog or walk a couple of times a week will improve your health quickly over a short time. Try none mechanical exercises like planks, crunches, squats and lunges to tone up too.

No matter what you do, just don’t get stuck in a rut! The less you do, the worse you feel. By being active in the first place, you will be more protected when winter really comes!