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Staying active as a student

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Most of us are already aware that exercise is important. According to ParticipACTION, a non-profit organization launched by the Canadian government to promote healthy living, exercise lowers the risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, several cancers, anxiety, depression, dementia, weight gain, and improves bone health and quality of life. According to Harvard Health, exercise can also boost your memory and thinking skills. 

There is a wide range of far-reaching benefits to exercise because it can prevent disease states from ever occurring. As such, regular exercise can have more of an impact than medical management. Exercise plays an important role throughout your life, but there may be some benefits listed above that appeal more to you when you’re a student. 

We all know how important regular exercise is and the benefits of an active lifestyle, but it’s also important to acknowledge that incorporating exercise into our lives as busy students is difficult. Finding a fitness routine that works for you is tough, figuring out where to start is hard, and committing and being consistent is not always easy. The good news is that at MacEwan University, there are a lot of resources and options available. 

Are you looking to start living a more active lifestyle or are you looking for tips on how to stay active? Look no further! Here is a compilation of tips, tricks and offerings at MacEwan University in order to achieve this feat.  

Find your motivation

Before diving into all the different ways you can be active, Anita De Boer, BPE, CSEP-CEP and Exercise Specialist at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness recommends in an email interview to determine your reason or motivation for being active. 

A lot of decisions we make are often driven by our own motivations. For example, you studied hard for that exam in hopes of getting a good grade. You got that part-time job so that you could afford to move out. You’re pursuing university in hopes of getting a job in your field of interest. 

Are you looking to sleep better? Are you looking for an improved mood? Are you looking to improve your academic performance? Are you simply looking to look and feel better? 

Find your ‘why?’ and start moving and feel the benefits,” De Boer says. 

How much exercise?

Jumping in and committing to an exercise routine can be a daunting task. It’s possible you’ll feel inclined to overshoot and over commit to a seven day a week workout routine. However, this need not be the case.

The Canadian Physical Activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise. Examples of aerobic training include swimming, cycling, and running or walking. In addition, resistance training should be added for two days of the week. ParticipACTION adds that several hours of light physical activity per a week, such as standing and stretching, is also recommended. For an overall generally healthy lifestyle, getting seven to nine hours of sleep is also recommended by ParticipACTION.

De Boer encourages trying to meet this guideline by spreading exercise out throughout the week.

“Make it easier by breaking it into smaller chunks, like 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be all at once!”

Start small and do what you can. De Boer suggests that even 10 minutes at a time is beneficial. Take advantage of the outdoors and go for a walk or do some light stretches as a study break. Little changes can have a large impact; every little bit adds up and your overall goal should just be to keep moving throughout the day.

Other ways to stay active throughout the day include active commuting, aiming to achieve 10,000 steps per day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 

Take advantage of the offerings at school

MacEwan University is actually one of the best places to begin your journey with fitness. For one thing, you’re surrounded by a diverse group of people — there are people that are new to the gym and there are people who are more comfortable and willing to help others build up their confidence at the gym. For another thing, you don’t even have to go to the gym if you don’t want to. MacEwan is located in the heart of downtown and as such there are a lot of accessible outdoor options. You can head out to the Royal Glenora Stairs to sweat it out, take a leisurely stroll down Railtown Park or go for a cycle down the High Level Bridge

If you are interested in using what is available on campus, the facilities, programming and support offered by MacEwan Sport and Wellness is very well-rounded and everything you need to keep active is right on campus! You can focus on endurance and cardio, strengthening and conditioning, or your flexibility. There’s definitely something that will piqué your interest! There also isn’t a deterrent of a pricey fee because a lot of the facility is accessible just by being a MacEwan University student. Another affordable and accessible option is through the City of Edmonton Recreation centres which are full service facilities located throughout Edmonton with affordable no contract membership fees.

MacEwan University Sport and Wellness is located in Building 8. According to the website, it is home to the 12,000 square foot fitness centre, 18,000 square foot gymnasium and six lane, 25-metre pool. The fitness space is a space for all. You can drop in and use the fitness centre or lane swim during open times. 

If you’re completely new to the gym and you want to start using the fitness facility but you simply do not know where to start, De Boer suggests the Fit Buddy Program.

“It’s a free student-led program. We connect you to a student who will be with you for three sessions. They will provide you with two workouts to try out,” she says in an email.

The Sport and Wellness blog also has demonstration and video exercises for those seeking to learn new skills. De Boer also emphasizes that the staff are there to support each student and she says not to hesitate in approaching them with questions.  

Group fitness, sports clubs and personal training also available

If you need a little bit of guidance, MacEwan Sport and Wellness has some highly certified personal trainers. You can purchase a ready-made strength program for $40. Personal trainers are also available at Macewan as well as other facilities. 

If you like using online videos to help you workout, some great Youtube fitness channels include MadFit; a channel dedicated to creating accessible workouts for all individuals or Orangetheory Fitness which offers online videos of their specialized HIIT workout.

Group fitness is also an excellent way to push your limits as you have an instructor leading the class. MacEwan University offers daily Value-Added classes that are free for MacEwan students. Spin classes, endurance training, and body weight classes are available. In addition to this, specialty courses with an affordable rate of $80 for 10 weeks are available for students. These include more focused yoga classes, kickboxing, and Olympic Weightlifting. The City of Edmonton offers a wide range of group fitness classes that are included in your membership fee and are available both virtually and in-person. 

If you’re interested in swimming but don’t know how to swim, MacEwan Sport and Wellness offers paid swimming classes for beginner, intermediate, advanced and master levels.  The City of Edmonton offers swimming lessons through Red Cross levels. 

If you’re looking for something recreational and competitive, consider joining in on weekly dodgeball, basketball, or indoor soccer leagues. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll also meet new people and make new friends! You can join these recreational intramural sports through Macewan University or through local offerings at Edmonton’s Sport and Social Club

Don’t forget to rest

Just like school, burnout from your fitness routine is possible. Regular physical activity is meant to energize and empower you. It’s important to be aware of your limits and when you just need to rest and reset.  

De Boer shares these sentiments: “Rest days are important because they allow your body to recover and repair, prevent muscle fatigue, reduce injury risk, and improve performance.” 

If you’re feeling drained, unmotivated, or if you’ve plateaued in your fitness journey, ensure that you’re taking adequate time for recovery and taking rest days. 

Safety remains paramount at Macewan University

In order to support the comfort and safety of students, MacEwan University Sport and Wellness have implemented many safety protocols. 

In order to use the facility, proof of vaccinations or a negative rapid COVID test is necessary. Masks must be worn throughout the facility but while at a workout station, masks can be removed. Each user is provided with a disinfectant bottle and towel in order to wipe down equipment after use. Physical distancing remains in place at this facility with reduced capacity and spaced out cardio strength equipment.

If you feel nervous about physically going to the gym, check in with the facility to see what safety measures they have in place. Additionally, online and at a distance workouts remain an option despite physical facilities opening up again.

Do you want to learn more about Sport and Wellness at Macewan? 
Find them on their website (MacEwan.ca/SportandWellness)

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