5 Simple ways to keep fit on a student budget

17 Jan 2018
By Matt V., Student at Sheffield Hallam University

Keeping fit is one of the most important things you can do for your health and general well-being. Did you know that exercise is one of the most powerful antidepressants?

It can seem difficult to balance keeping fit with endless nights out and takeaways while at uni, but it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive.

Just stick your headphones in and go.

Here are five ways to keep your fitness up in 2018 without breaking the bank.

1) Start running

Running is good because it's so simple – just stick your headphones in and go. There are loads of great free apps available to track your runs. These let you challenge yourself to improve your time and distance.

I use Nike Run Club, which tells you your speed and distance during a run. I find that running in the morning is best as the streets are empty and you'll be wide awake for that 9am lecture.

If you've never run before, the concept can seem quite daunting. Why not try and get one of your flatmates to join you?

2) Join a gym

Joining a gym and sticking to a regular routine is a great way to get into better shape or just keep fit. If you're lucky, your accommodation has an on-site gym. If it doesn't, or you find the gym inadequate, sign up for a local one. Find a local gym with Google Maps.

Most gyms offer a student rate and most universities have gyms of their own. A gym membership can seem expensive but it's down to you to get value from it. If you go multiple times a week then it is absolutely worth it. Don't make the mistake of signing up during a burst of motivation and only going twice before you pack it in! I know too many people who have done this.

The first time at any gym is always uncomfortable as you try to figure out where everything is and how the machines work. Most gyms offer a free or cheap induction if you want to learn how to use the equipment. Again, if you've never been to a gym before, get a flatmate to sign up with you.

3) Walk whenever it's an option

It may seem obvious, but walk when you can. Use some of your free time to walk around and discover your new surroundings. Walk to university. It might be tempting to get a taxi – especially in winter – but it's simply not a good use of money.

Take the stairs over the lift at your accommodation. Over a whole year this will make a difference.

Walk to buy your shopping if you can. Do you really need to take your flatmate's car for that two-minute drive to Tesco?

4) Join a sports team or society

Joining a university sports team is a gateway to regular exercise and making new friends. You don't have to be the next Andy Murray to join the tennis team – university clubs cater to all skill levels.

Even it just means a weekly run-around with your mates, it's better than binging another season on Netflix!

5) Pay as you play

Find a local sports centre where you can hire out courts or pitches. If you can find a group, for just a couple of pounds each you can play on high quality surfaces with proper equipment.

Universities usually provide some paid facilities. It is also easy to join small 5-a-side leagues or tournaments in your local area – just google it.

Want to see changes? Stick with it

Applying any of these ideas will help you stay fit during your time at university. It takes two weeks to make a habit, so stick at it.

Set yourself small incremental goals to help motivate yourself. There's no reason to get out of shape just because you're a student!

92% of people fail at their New Year’s resolutions.

Can you become one of the 8%?

Just stick your headphones in and go.
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Matt is studying Business at Sheffield Hallam, and is currently on a placement year in the USA.