Exercising to keep sane--a guest blog--part 2 of 2

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Finding time to exercise

..isn’t easy, not for students, not for workers, and certainly not for those who are both! In the end, though, it comes down to priorities.

Back when I was a new grad student at UBC, I remember my jiu-jitsu instructor sitting me down after class to ask where I’d been (most BJJ instructors recommend training at least three times a week and I was only training one). I told him I’d been busy with school, on top of which I had teaching responsibilities, on top of which I had a social life and a long-term relationship. He nodded and then asked how much time I spent procrastinating (doing nothing). Quite a bit, I admitted. (I suspect this true for most if not all grad students, incidentally.) Well, he said, if you’re going to procrastinate, why don’t you come down and train?

That conversation changed my grad school experience: I began exercising three to four times a week (six hours in all) and, as a result, I was able to re-focus on my studies and keep my stress levels down even as the rest of my cohort pulled caffeine-fueled all-nighters.

The second reason for not exercising – lack of familiarity with an enjoyable activity – is more difficult. One of the reasons I got into BJJ was I hated going to the gym. All throughout high school, I hated physical education, loathed team sports, and didn’t find the prospect of waking up at six in the morning to go for a run all that appealing. Consequently, I ended up doing what most people do: compelling myself through sheer force of will to head down to the gym where I would run on the treadmill, lift a few weights, and call it a day without really breaking much of a sweat. (I wasn’t in good shape; I just didn’t work out very hard.)

Many of my friends hate going to the gym the same way I do. Still, they purchase their passes, go once or twice and then never return. My recommendation for those who, like me, dislike the gym and never got into exercising when they were younger is to branch out and try something new. It could be anything from judo (a very demanding form of exercise that is also quite affordable) to swimming (great exercise and very relaxing) to badminton (okay, maybe not the most grueling activity). Best of all, try several: Hart House offers a range of activities to UT students, most of which are priced so as to be compatible with student budgets.

That’s all for now; I sincerely hope this series wasn’t too preachy. As for me, I’m going to try to motivate myself to get up from this desk and go train!
 

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