Working fitness into a busy schedule

by Lauren Yap

Monica Linzmeir, Staff Photographer

Students face the daunting task of juggling classes, internships, social events and extracurriculars on a daily basis. Unfortunately, hectic schedules often let fitness fade into oblivion.

Several busy students prefer to dedicate free time to their social calendar. Fortunately, fitness and friends are not mutually exclusive. Instead of the typical coffee date, explore the local scenic hiking trails around San Diego, such as North Fortuna or Devil’s Punchbowl. Or convince pals to participate in a fun group fitness class at the Aztec Recreation Center or take a walk through Balboa Park.

College years are infamously associated with unhealthy eating habits. San Diego State senior Laurela Balangue said she buys food at school when she dosen’t have time to make her own. “Since I’m on a budget, I choose the cheaper foods, which are usually the most unhealthy,” Balangue said. Fast-food joints and vending machines dominate campus. One can avoid temptation at school by preparing food home. A hearty breakfast packed with low-fat proteins, whole grains and fruits combats junk food binges later on.

SDSU communication transfer student Jason Cella said, “I have a busy schedule so I make my meals a few days in advance and put them in the refrigerator so I can have my lunches and dinners pre-made to save time and money.”

Students should stock their kitchens with fresh produce and avoid processed or microwaveable products.

SDSU athletic training major Vika Preddy said she monitors her eating habits very closely. “I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, sandwiches and salads during the week and try to workout on the weekends,” Preddy said. Finally, bring a reusable water bottle to campus to stay hydrated and curb soft drink cravings.

Structured athletic activities help motivate students to participate. SDSU sports clubs and intramural teams offer fun college experiences with the health benefits of athleticism. Men’s crew team member Lawson Navarro knows the value of setting a consistent schedule around his workouts.

“With early morning practices on the water and afternoon workouts on land, time management is pretty important,” Navarro said. “Even if I’m exhausted from morning practice and I really don’t want to work out again, the feeling of accomplishment often trumps that.”

Being part of a team transforms a mundane exercise obligation into a fierce commitment. Media studies major Dena Shamoon decided to get active with a nonprofit organization.

“When I joined Team In Training with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, it became easier to find time to work out because I was working towards my personal half marathon goals and helping cancer patients as well,” Shamoon said.

Busy students should choose an exercise time to work into their existing schedules.

“People underestimate how much time there is in a day and even in a week,” Navarro added. If you want to work out, just wake up early or stay up late so you can make that workout happen.” Students with long breaks between classes can wear workout clothes and shoes to school so they can maximize that extra time for exercise. SDSU junior Kindra Kernes fits in a healthy lifestyle while balancing her schoolwork and job at T.G.I Fridays.

“The time girls set aside for exercise also must include showering and getting ready for work or school, which usually takes away another hour,” Kernes said. “That’s why I usually prefer to work out at night once I’m off work.”

For those who can’t make regular trips to the gym, there are numerous ways to remain active without an ARC membership.

“I try to exercise as much as I can even if it’s not at the gym. For example, I will take the stairs instead of the elevator,” Preddy added. Students can take her advice one step further and park their cars on the top floor to benefit from the extra steps. Grab an iPod and jog around campus. Walk, bike or skate to nearby destinations. Free smartphone apps, such as the Nike Training Club App, offer convenient workout regimens for all levels.

Eliminate the mindset of, “I just don’t have the time to exercise and eat healthy.” That cliché remains unconvincing because once fitness becomes a priority, poor time management becomes an invalid excuse. Instead, aim to make fitness a positive endeavor.

“Students should erase the stigma that exercise is exhausting,” Navarro said. “Once they do that, they will probably find that exercise actually improves them both physically and mentally.”