If you want to perform at your very best with your online studies, then it is essential to take care of your body and your physical health. In a previous article, we spoke of the importance of staying connected in looking after your mental health. There is a strong link between a healthy mind and a healthy body. As the saying goes, “healthy body, healthy mind” and a healthy diet and regular exercise are two top ways to take care of yourself and manage student stress.
It may seem difficult to keep active while studying online, but with just a bit of effort you can reap the benefits of a regular home workout and a healthy diet. Putting a bit of time and effort aside will help you to concentrate and focus, making the time well spent.
Maintaining a healthy diet when studying online is easier than when attending traditional classes on campus. You can cook for yourself and keep your fridge and kitchen stocked with healthy food. Eating from home makes it both cheaper and easier to make some changes to ensure you are eating better.
Here are some diet tips for mental health from the Wits Counselling and Career Development Unit (CCDU):
- Replace refined carbs (such as white bread) with healthier options (such as brown bread)
- Swop junk food for healthier items (e.g. buy a banana or a yoghurt instead of a chocolate bar)
- Include more fresh options such as fruit and vegetables
- Avoid skipping meals
If you are close to campus, you can also visit Campus Health and Wellness Centre to discuss nutrition with a nurse.
Getting regular exercise has many benefits and is a crucial part of taking good care of yourself. Exercise and the chemicals it releases can improve your concentration and memory and promote the growth of new brain cells. Getting your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day, or even just five to 10 minutes, will boost information processing and memory functions.
Regular exercise also helps you to sleep better, allowing you to wake up refreshed in the morning. Another benefit of exercise is improved resilience. This means that you will be better able to deal with stressful situations in your life.
You can get all the exercise you need within your own home. There are many different routines that you can do at home to get your blood flowing and your muscles working. While we may have laughed about it just two years ago, there are now many different online fitness classes that you can join, which can help with motivation.
Here are some aerobic exercise routines that you can try out at home to get your blood pumping and body working. We’ve also included some lower impact exercises that will help you take better care of yourself, both while studying online and for life in general.
You don’t need complicated gym equipment to get a good workout and get in shape. Callisthenics is the name for exercise that relies on your body weight. Push-ups, sit-ups, crunches exercises and pull-ups are all forms of callisthenics.
Follow these links for introductory callisthenics courses and lessons:
- Video: How To Start Calisthenics at Home for Beginners (No Equipment)
- Article guide: Callisthenics: The Ultimate Beginner’s 7 Day Guide
Pilates is a form of exercise that has grown in popularity immensely in recent years and can be done at home. Although some routines require more complicated, specialised equipment, you can still do a full session at home with a mat. Pilates will increase your flexibility and muscle tone, but it is recommended that you still also do some form of aerobic exercise as it is low impact and does not increase your heart rate.
Follow these links for introductory Pilates courses and lessons:
- Video: Pilates Videos
- Article guide: 8 Easy Pilates Exercises for Beginners You Can Do At Home
Yoga has many proven benefits to those that practice it on a regular basis. It is fantastic for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression and practitioners claim that it improves their overall quality of life. Yoga improves posture, strength and flexibility and can also help alleviate chronic pain and migraines. As with Pilates, yoga is best mixed with some other form of regular higher intensity exercise to get your heart rate up.
Follow these links for introductory yoga courses and lessons:
- Video: Yoga For Complete Beginners – 20 minute home yoga workout
- Article Guide: The Definitive Guide to Yoga for Beginners and Experts
Here is a simple and quick way to work up a sweat without having to go outside. Although very simple, jumping rope is an effective way to get good aerobic exercise in a short time. Although many of us think of it as a childhood playground activity, there’s a good reason why boxers do it to get their fitness levels up and to keep them on their toes.
Follow these links for introductory courses and lessons on jumping rope:
- Video: How To Jump Rope For Beginners
- Article guide: How to Jump Rope: The complete beginner’s guide to jump rope training
Japanese towel exercise
Here’s one way of getting a good home workout that you may not have heard about. All this requires is a towel and enough space to lie down. This method was created by Toshiki Fukutsudzi, a Japanese doctor and specialist in reflexology and massage. The exercise aims to strengthen the core muscles, overcome bad posture, reduce back pain and shrink the waist.
Follow these links for introductory courses and lessons to do the Japanese towel exercise:
- Video: 5 Minutes a day Japanese towel exercise for weight loss by Dr. Fukutsudzi
- Article guide: Japanese towel method promises to flatten your stomach and reduce waist
The two indoor gyms at Wits were closed due to Covid-19 at the time of writing, but with restrictions easing up they are likely to open in the coming months. Wits’ two outdoor interactive gyms are unaffected by these restrictions and have remained open to staff and students to enjoy for free. The gyms are located on East Campus Matrix courts and West Campus Gavin Raily lawns.
For more details on the facilities, please visit the Wits Fitness and Wellness Centre page.
You can follow Wits Sport on social media to get the latest updates:
For sports enthusiasts, Wits has 28 different sports societies to choose from. While some teams compete at a very high level, such as the men’s soccer team which won the national premier league in 2017, beginners are also welcomed.
Take a look at the Wits sports clubs page for more information and contact details.