In this blog I will discuss how I have developed working out as a habit to improve my productivity and motivation.
Personally, I can say one of the bigger challenges I face as a student is how to maintain productivity daily and how to find motivation on days I am unable to get myself to study. Nowadays, with almost everything being online, it is even more difficult since most daily activities like commuting and walking between classes are no longer embedded as much into our days. Productivity is developed through daily consistent habits. Here I will explore exercising, since it is one of the major habits I have developed in my (almost) three years of studying at UBC and has made a significant change in my personal and academic life. Besides, working out has many other health, physical and emotional benefits other than improving productivity!
How working out/exercise helps with productivity
● Helps to add structure to daily activities
In a period when every hour of every day seems like the same, finding some time to get active daily can really help with scheduling and creating a structure for the day. Typically, I have (online) classes and work scheduled between 9 am and 5 pm daily, and I have to plan my workout two days in advance (to book a slot at one of the gyms at UBC). So, that helps me get prepared in advance and by doing that I am programmed in such a way that I try to get all my tasks done for the day before I go workout. Also, having some time set out for exercises sometimes serves as a much needed break to let off steam accumulated from working all day so
I can get more work done later in a timely manner. This way, working out motivates me and gives me something to look forward to everyday.
● Physical and mental health and your academics
In addition, several research studies have shown that exercising in general can improve your mood and decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. This is because exercise promotes the production of the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which help relieve feelings of depression. It also increases the production of endorphins which help produce positive feelings, which keeps us motivated . This has been crucial to me because I find it tremendously difficult to get any work done whenever I feel stressed. So, whenever I find myself having an unproductive day, it really helps to go do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes and then re-attempting those tasks again.
How to incorporate exercise in your daily life
Since I became aware of the roles working out plays on my physical and mental health and academics, I made it a goal to make it a predominant part of my daily life. This has been quite transformational and is one thing that motivates me every day. So, I would like to encourage everyone to incorporate this as a part of their lives as well.
A lot of people might think it is difficult to get started, but it is not! The key is to set small goals that are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based). Practicing the act of setting SMART goals can also make a positive change in our academic development. The Chapman Learning Commons’ Toolkit on Time Management is a very helpful resource that could help in setting these goals and I recommend you check it out. Once we have our goals set, the next step is to maintain consistency. Research has shown that it takes about 66 days on average for a new habit to become automatic. Therefore, it is important to stay consistent to the plan to reap the benefits. My recommendation is to start slowly by making sure you meet your set goals every day for the first two months, and when you feel comfortable you can either stick to your goal or set a new one and keep it going for the next two months! For example, a goal I have set for myself for the first three months of this year is to get myself to the gym at least four times every week. Yes, just getting myself to the gym is a goal I have set, and this is because I am focused on building the habit. Once I am able to get myself to the gym I know I will get the motivation to work out. For someone else, a goal could be to have a set time to do yoga every week, go for a run or even a walk daily. It could be anything! After all, there are tons of ways to stay active.
To make this process more fun, I have found it helpful documenting my progress with trackers such as Strava, Fitbit, Activity (for iOS users) or even a pedometer. Some of these platforms also allow us to “compete” with our friends, which could be a way of having accountability. When the process becomes fun, it doesn’t feel like a chore and it’s a lot easier and more rewarding.
To get started, UBC Recreation has a pool of resources to help students in their fitness journey, which includes working out at home and in the gym. I recommend taking advantage of this.
Below are a list of other free resources to help get started with both at-home and gym workouts.
I really hope you have found this post helpful. Feel free to leave a comment to share your fitness/academic goals for this semester!
I wish you good luck in your fitness and academic journey!
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