Our Active at Oxford campaign – which aims to encourage more students to enjoy the benefits of getting active – has now been running for a few weeks, and we hope you’ve tried something new, or found something that you might like to get involved in.
One common misconception, especially for anyone who may not currently exercise regularly, is that making changes to be more active is likely to prove expensive.
It’s true that many gyms and fitness classes can be off-puttingly pricy, (although the ones offered at Iffley Road and low-cost private gyms are great value for students), but getting fit on a budget is much more achievable than you might think.
So here are some of our top tips and ideas for getting active at Oxford, without breaking the bank.
We talked a few weeks ago about the importance of making active choices.
These are small decisions that you can make in your everyday life, which over time may make a big difference.
These choices often take minimal extra effort, but their cumulative effect can be substantial. They can have an important effect on changing your mindset to notice, and take advantage of, more opportunities to get active.
Click here to read our article about active choices, and in no time you’ll find yourself enjoying jumping off the bus stop earlier, skipping up the stairs while others wait for the lift to arrive, and getting on your bike
Get out for a walk
Of course, one of the simplest ways to get active on a budget is to get outside and enjoy a nice walk.
It’s easy to overlook the health benefits of taking a walk, but whether it’s to lose weight, or simply clear your head and escape the library for a few minutes, a good walk can be a surprisingly powerful thing.
Indeed, moderate walking is said to be one of the best ways to lose weight, and it’s a highly effective way for beginners to add in a little more exercise into their lives, without the risk of injuries that some activities can have.
Give running a chance
For many people, the idea of going out for a run gives them a cold sweat.
Often, one bad experience can put people off running for life. With running in particular, trying to do too much too soon can lead to a painful experience. That’s why it’s vital to start small, and build up from there.
Jogging is one activity where giving yourself time to build up your fitness is vitally important. Once you have achieved this, you might be surprised to find that you actually begin to enjoy running. Long distance runners in particular often say that the effects are similar to those of meditation, and that running has an important positive effect on both their mental and physical health.
So even if you currently think that you hate running, it may be worth giving it a chance – especially if you can follow a programme aimed at beginners, such as the one below:
Couch to 5K
The Couch to 5K exercise program, is very popular, and perfect for beginners. It will add a little structure to your exercise routine, and you can enjoy the feeling of achievement, as the programme builds you towards the goal of comfortably completing a 5K run. Equally, you can find many other phone apps and podcasts, which are designed to guide you through an exercise goal.
You can even add a little more fun and adventure to your exercise with apps such as this, which will play audio and let you play and interactive game, where you have to run away from zombies. If that doesn’t get you moving, nothing will!
Find a friend
Starting any kind of new exercise routine can be a little daunting on your own, so one of the best ways to help yourself stick with it is to find a friend to go on your journey with you.
For many people, these free activities will be more enjoyable if you can find a friend to try them with. Also, the motivation not to let each other down can be incredibly useful in keeping with an exercise routine. Read more about the value of exercising in a group here.
Don’t worry if you’re somebody who prefers to exercise alone, however. Whether it’s in a group or alone – the important thing is simply to get out there and enjoy!
As you can see, there are lots of great opportunities to get active for free or at a very low cost. Getting active on a regular basis will have a huge impact on your health, and it’s all about finding the right activity, to fit into your routine, and that you’ll enjoy and stick with over the long term.
The benefits of finding an enjoyable exercise routine can be huge, and evidence shows that sport and physical activities can have a valuable impact on both your physical and mental health. So find what works for you, and get involved. We’d love to hear your stories. Use the hashtag #activeatoxford to share your experiences of getting active.