Too Busy to Stay Active?

Published on April 8th, 2014

I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but life can get a little hectic at times.

I devote a lot of my time every day trying to manage my time, putting appointments in my Google Calendar, color-coordinating them all according to priority… just so I can stay on top of everything. I then spend even more time being overwhelmed by this kaleidoscope of overlapping events. After everything is said and done, there is one thing that I make sure is included in my schedule no matter how much I may have on my plate: exercise.

Ironically enough, I perform better when I have several things to juggle at the same time, but the secret ingredient to making the mayhem work is exercise. Without it, I fall apart. As a junior at New York University, I manage a heavy load of coursework, work part-time on-campus and intern at the Women’s Sports Foundation. With all of my responsibilities and commitments, I tend to feel overwhelmed so it is important that I take time to stay active.

There is a great deal of research that stresses the importance of maintaining regular exercise. Besides the obvious benefit of improving fitness and maintaining physical health and wellbeing, regular exercise also improves productivity, exercises the brain, builds confidence and self-esteem, and acts as an antidepressant, putting you in a more positive mood. Personally, I use it as an escape and as a healthy way to relieve stress. I find solace on the field hockey turf and on the dance floor. When I am there, no work or assignments are on my mind. It is a time when I can be free and clear my head. Afterward, I am more relaxed, in a better mood and ready to forge ahead. It allows me a change of perspective and I can approach my work with renewed enthusiasm.

Carving out that time is the hardest part. Even though I know how much relief exercising provides, sometimes I find it difficult to get going. It is so easy for me to get caught up in everything else and put exercise on the back burner. But trust me, making that sacrifice is worthwhile.

For those of us who are college students, we may find that taking some time to remain active is beneficial and those advantages will bleed into other aspects of our day-to-day life. I have learned very valuable lessons and skills through playing field hockey and dancing: teamwork, working together, communication and interpersonal skills, and the holy grail of lessons which is time management. With so many tasks to accomplish and limited to only 24 hours a day, it becomes of paramount importance to manage time properly, make a schedule and stick to it.

For me, it was the simple job of getting my assignments finished before a dance rehearsal because I knew would be exhausted and want to go straight to sleep afterward. I treated my extracurricular activities as incentives and it was easier to get things done when I had a goal in mind and something to look forward to. Dance and field hockey have always been a source of pleasure for me. I don’t see them as exercise or as chores; I am doing it because I want to and I enjoy doing it. It’s fun! I love playing on a team with people who share similar interests. In my opinion, it’s much more invigorating than running on a treadmill or spending an hour on the elliptical.

I would encourage everyone to keep some form of exercise in their schedule. Regular exercise will help you handle the 101 other things you need to get done. Try something new, something you are interested in and you will be amazed at how much more manageable your life will become.