The stressors of college, in and out of the classroom, make it difficult to stay energized.
It was especially true for me, juggling midterms, papers, class, homework and work. Sleep wasn’t really an option. And this isn’t an uncommon situation, and in many cases, it can be worse.
A nonlethal but unhealthy mix of inactivity, stress without rest and poor eating habits can drain the body’s energy, sap strength and mental sharpness and stop any sort of fat loss path the body may be on.
So, is there any alternative? Busy schedules can’t be avoided, but there are some quick and easy remedies that can help keep the body fit and the mind sharp.
Start the morning off with exercise
Mornings are rough, and there is nothing more satisfying than hitting the snooze button before taking a lazy start to the day. But, for the benefit of a healthier body and a greater supply of energy throughout the day, a few quick exercises within 30 minutes of waking up make all the difference.
While sleeping, the body’s muscles tend to contract. Soon after waking up, stretch the entire body. Roll each leg at the hip, forward and back. Roll the neck carefully. Pull your arms across your chest. Work everything from shoulders to elbows to wrists.
For added fun, follow it up with some quick exercise. A mix of 20 push-ups and 30 crunches is my preference, but it’s up to the individual. Just remember: do them quickly after waking. This is the best way to increase circulation and get the muscles working at their fullest.
Find natural foods to avoid crashing
It might not sound fulfilling, but foods like carrots and almonds can offer energy through means other than sugar, such as high nutrient levels.
If you have the time for a full breakfast, avoid carb-heavy cereals or grain. Instead, load up on fresh food. It might not be as filling, but expect a longer state of alertness. Buy a blender, throw fruits, vegetables and nuts in and drink on the go — instant energy.
Embrace the cold
Cold therapy is one of the most beneficial, unorthodox tips — and one of my favorites — thanks to the sheer number of health benefits it has. A cold shower can burn fat because of the way cold temperatures activate fat-burning cells in the body, but it also has other tricks, namely in the energy-boosting field.
Cold can increase circulation, as it pushes blood through the vessels around the body. Plus, it can be a very good way to wake up following a near all-nighter.
Train your body’s reflexes
Sitting in a chair for hours on end, and pouring over books and computers will likely restrict physical activity to arm movement and typing. When forced into a routine, the body adapts to it, and if that routine is lethargy, then that’s what the body’s reflexes will adapt to.
This might not seem like much, but reflexes are tied to alertness and reaction time and can be useful in dodging bike traffic, making sharp turns in a crowd and simply taking in all that’s going on around campus.
Even if the plan is to spend eight hours at your desk finishing a midterm assignment, make sure to set aside 10-15 minutes to exercise. This doesn’t mean going to the gym; it can be done inside your dorm or apartment. Find a bit of space and start doing a variety of exercises, rotating between them constantly.
These can be push-ups, jumping and bringing the knees to your chest, then launching immediately into sit-ups. Basically, do many exercises, but in very short sets, and alternate the muscles being used. This mix forces the body to move from muscle group to muscle group, never allowing it to adjust and settle.
All-nighters can deaden the body and the mind; by training your reflexes, you can help give it more energy and make yourself more alert.
Nothing will top a full workout and a long sleep for physical benefits, but one shouldn’t give up on fitness because of midterms or a hectic schedule. With a few quick tricks, the body can stay active and energetic, no matter how busy things get.
Nicholas Slayton is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. His column “Way of the Body” runs Tuesdays.