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Sports and Exercise Tips for Students - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

No matter what you're studying or what sports you are (or aren't) playing, it's important to exercise regularly while you're in school. Yes, it can be a real challenge to stay fit when you're studying and sitting all day, but it's well worth the effort. Exercising regularly has physical and health benefits, of course, but it's also a great stress-buster and promotes good mental health.

Sometimes studying and working toward an academic goal and career can interfere with exercise. If you've never been "the athletic type" and you're working toward an in-demand degree in a STEM field, which are projected to reach 9 million new jobs by 2020, then you may not think exercise is for you. Although academics and subjects within STEM are challenging, it's imperative kids still take time to exercise and care for their body.

Creating an exercise routine or getting involved in a sport can help give you a competitive edge in your studies and offset some of the time spent in front of the computer. Doing sports and engaging in exercise can really help students find balance and feel better. Exercise gives them a break from studying and screens too. Developing these 10 good exercise habits now will set you up for success later in life.

conditioning training

Tip 1: Set Fitness Goals

It'll be much easier to find the motivation you need to exercise regularly if you set achievable fitness goals. You'll have something to work towards, which will encourage you to keep pushing yourself. Just make sure to keep your goals achievable and work up to your bigger goals slowly to avoid burnout and injury.

Tip 2: Mind Your Form

Exercise is great for your body…until you hurt yourself. Prevent injury and make the most out of your workouts by watching your form. Ask for help from a coach or trainer, read up on proper form, and practice. It's better to do a few reps with proper form then to do twenty with poor form.

Tip 3: Don't Overdo It

We'd all love to be able to lift huge weights right away, but overdoing it while you're still growing can have serious consequences. Lifting too much weight and spending too much time at the gym could disrupt your growth plates and cause long-term damage.

Tip 4: Remember to Breathe

Breathing properly can affect your endurance and make a big difference in your workouts. Breathing exercises can also help you to manage stress and stay calm in your everyday life.

Tip 5: Take It Easy in the Beginning

It takes time before your body is accustomed to regular exercise, so keep your workouts short and manageable when you're first starting out. Twenty minutes three times a week is plenty for a baseline. If that's too easy, you can always scale up.

Tip 6: Remember to Warm Up

When we're not moving, our muscles and tendons tighten up. That's why it's so important to start every workout with a warmup. Stretching out your muscles or walking for a bit is enough to get your body ready for a run or strength training session. It's a simple step, but it's essential for preventing injury.

Tip 7: Remember to Fuel the Machine

Timing your meals to fuel your body before a workout can help your performance. It's best to eat and drink water about two hours before a workout. This will ensure that you are fueled and hydrated, without weighing you down or causing you to feel sick.

Tip 8: Pay Attention to Your Body

It's never a good feeling to end a workout early, but if you injure yourself you'll be out of commission for at least a couple of days. Listen to your body and take it easy or call it quits for the day if you need to.

Tip 9: Get Training and Protect Your Body

Sometimes, the best way to form good habits is to start by learning from someone who is more knowledgeable about exercise. If you're able to work with a personal trainer, he or she can teach you about proper form and how to protect your body while your train.

Tip 10: Wear the Right Exercise Gear

While you don't need top-of-the-line equipment to start exercising, it's important to have the gear you need to stay safe and comfortable. Proper footwear and clothing can make a big difference, and can affect both safety and performance.

Get a Head Start on Fitness

You'll give yourself a huge head start if you build healthy exercise habits before you go to college or enter the workforce. Learning how to stay in shape will help you while you're earning your advanced degree and working your way up the corporate ladder. Professionals with advanced degrees will be in high demand in the future, and you'll need every advantage possible to stay at the top of your game.

If you stay in shape, you'll enjoy better work-life balance and overall well-being which can help you stay sharp and competitive as you move through life. Exercise has many benefits, and by building these skills and habits when you're young, you'll set yourself up for a lifetime of good physical and mental health.

Articles by Sarah Daren