I’m too busy, I’m too behind on school work, it’s exam week so I’ll start next week…some of the most common excuses I’ve heard for medical students not staying physically active. Yes, school requires many hours of work but I can assure you it is definitely possible to stay fit in medical school; take it from someone who works out 5-7 times a week. I am extremely passionate about fitness and actually had to adjust to working out LESS in medical school in order to devote enough hours to studying. Here are a few tips on how you can maintain your grades without compromising your body:
- Establish a schedule with exercise included: A typical medical student is only in class a few hours each day, and the rest of the day is dedicated study hours. I find most students cannot study straight for consecutive hours, so use that time to take an exercise break. Personally for me, I like to smash my workouts in the morning before class, so that I’m feeling refreshed and alert for the rest of the day. Many of my peers prefer to incorporate it in the middle of the day in between studying as a break, and some are part of the late night workout crew. It doesn’t matter what time of day you decide to exercise, but embed it into your schedule and it’ll become routine for you rather than a leisurely choice.
- Vary up your workout schedule: Often times we dread exercising because it becomes so boring and a chore for our body. This used to be the case for me as well until I started varying up my workouts. Rather than going to the gym every day, I elect to go to the gym 3-4 times a week, dedicate one weekend morning to a long run, and then another weekend morning to a fitness class at a studio to try something new and “treat myself.” This gets me excited about working out and look forward to it as a fun break from studying. Do something you enjoy: yoga, running, weightlifting, walking, boxing, cycling, swimming…the options are endless! Explore them all and you’ll surely find your exercise niche.
- Bring a buddy with you! I admittedly am a solo exerciser and rarely ever work out with others, but a lot of people I know prefer exercising with friends because this is more enjoyable and keeps them more accountable. This is great to ensure that you maintain an exercise routine, and is a fun bonding activity as well! I do like bringing a friend to different fitness studios to try out classes together, and we’ve established this as one of the activities we do together. Then, you can treat yourself to a nice lunch or bubble tea together afterward!
- Listen to your body. If indeed you are too tired from a long day of class to workout, don’t force yourself to exercise; this will only cause you to dread it more. Rest is important to academic and physical wellbeing, and you should always do what you feel you are physically comfortable with doing. Yes, it is great to push yourself to your limits in your workouts in order to advance and get that adrenaline high, but you should not feel forced to exercise if you lack the energy to do so. Rest days are very important for recovery.