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Out of all the things I’ve done this semester, I think my proudest accomplishment is not being a complete couch potato anymore. I am the least active person ever. I tire so easily, hate exercising, and am so inflexible and uncoordinated. But being a commuter with full access to two athletic centres right on campus has done me some good. I’m absolutely no expert on keeping fit, but here are some tips that have helped me move away from my previously 100% sedentary lifestyle:

  • Get up, go outside, and walk every day.
  • Sign up for a house league sport (soccer, hockey, etc.). This takes up less than two hours of time per week. Seasons are pretty long, allowing for long term weekly commitment and room for improvement. As a beginner, I found that people were very friendly, encouraging, and welcoming; it’s also far from an intense or competitive level, so no pressure. Furthermore, shelling out a few hundred on registration does add motivation to show up every week.
  • Take advantage of the many free work-out workshops offered on campus, from Flex Fusion to Aquatics to Cycling, etc. They are only an hour long; Zumba is especially fun.
  • Join a school sports team or club. I was always hesitant on this one because even when they advertised “all-levels,” I didn’t believe my abysmal level even reached the minimum requirement. But I’ve been surprised by how friendly and patient experienced members are. University offers so much (Quidditch, fencing, rowing, archery, dance, etc.) so take advantage of it. It’s a great way to meet people and have fun.
  • Stretch for ten minutes before sleep every night. It relaxes the mind as well as the body. You’d be surprised how quickly you see results too. Flexibility is something that is very easily lost but also easily regained with consistent practice.
  • Save an hour every week to do laps or sets (cycling, running, swimming, etc.). Swimming has always been my preferred exercise so I did laps at the Hart House pool once a week at the beginning of the year. But the changing and showering became a hassle and I stopped when I got my tattoo and wasn’t allowed to soak it in water. I started running instead, which, if you know me at all, is miraculous. Hart House has an indoor track so the temperature and terrain was constant. For the first time, I ran alone with music instead of with a partner and it made all the difference in the world. I could dictate my own pace instead of struggling to follow someone else’s and lose myself in the steady rhythm and playlist. (Good running songs: Fallout, by Marianas Trench (consistent drum beat throughout the entire song), Try, by P!nk, and Radioactive and On Top of the World, by Imagine Dragons). It was such a great release of stress and I was shocked by how much better I felt afterwards.

Being active has forced me to eat healthier as well. As someone who has always been plagued with body image issues, this is personally a very big step. It’s the first time I’m approaching the issue from a healthy perspective, which makes all the difference. Realizing that may have been the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in the first term of university.