Recently, a long-time reader, who just got into university, tweeted me for advice. He felt drained by the end of the day and was falling off his fitness routine. He wanted to know how he could keep his energy levels high (to stay fit and cope with school).

These were his tweets.

im falling off, university started, i feel drained at the end of the day; i dont eat as much as i should and all and now im
i dont eat like i should and all, not always as much sleep either; anyways im not getting fatter like i was afraid to
 how you keep your energy lvls high with a students lifestyle?

I’m falling off, university started. I feel drained at the end of the day; I dont eat as much as I should and all and now I’m […]

I don’t eat like I should and all, not always as much sleep either; anyways I’m not getting fatter like I was afraid to […]

How (do) you keep your energy levels high with a students lifestyle?

I’m sure this is something we all can relate to.

Yet, keeping fit while studying is more than just keeping your energy levels high. Here’s my response.

How do you cope with student life and stay active? (my response)

Feeling drained at the end of your day? Take a deep breathe, relax, and… welcome to adulthood. Everything is going to be fine.

And you will make fitness work in your life. Believe it!

Unfortunately, feeling drained and tired is going to be the norm, even when you begin working. In fact, it will probably be worse. I’m saying this based on my experiences in both university and full-time work.

I personally fell off fitness during my uni days when juggling between freelance work and school. But I got back to it before I started working full-time.

So, as much as you want to lead an active lifestyle, responsibilities will get in the way. And when you have the time for it, you’d feel too lethargic to train.

Still, how do so many people — both students and working professionals alike — make training work despite their hectic schedules?

Nope. It’s NOT a matter of keeping your energy levels high. It is so much more than that.

There are 5 things you need to settle to make fitness work for you!

1. Get your basic needs right (while getting used to uni)

Eating right

One, eat right, get enough sleep, and hydrate yourself! When you get your basic needs right, your mental state improves drastically. 

You’ve just started university and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. It’ll take time for you to adjust to your new schedule and lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean you neglect your basic needs!

To be honest, your energy levels and fatigue likely got worse because you’ve been skipping meals and sleeping less. Don’t expect high energy levels when you haven’t been taking care of your basic needs.

2. Adapt your fitness goals to limitations in time

Plan your schedule and account for time limits

Two, take a look at your schedule and assess your fitness goals. Be realistic based on time limits.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve? Then, figure out how you can make that happen despite your limitations in time and energy.

Find solutions; not excuses as to why things wouldn’t work.

Too tired to workout at night? Go to bed earlier and workout in the morning.

Can’t fit in one hour of training during weekdays? Break your workout session into several 20-minute chunks, in-between classes.

3. Don’t give in to energy lows… you don’t have to feel like doing it, to do it

Ignore energy lows and force yourself to train

Three, your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Ignore your unproductive thoughts when you’re low on energy.

For example, if you can only find time to workout in the evening, try this.

The moment you reach the dorm, get changed into your workout gear and get out! Don’t sit around and let your mind think about how tired it is. That was how I made things work.

The feelings of fatigue subside once your heart rate is raised.

Note: Ignore this if you have a medical condition. Seek a doctors advice instead.

4. When you are unusually tired, listen to your body

Be Spontaneous

There are days when you are honestly too drained to get a proper workout in. Then — no workout plans at all. Be spontaneous.

The last thing you want to do is to psyche yourself out further with a strenuous 3-hour workout plan. So, let your body guide you into doing what you want to physically.

On such days, I force myself to get out of the house and be spontaneous.

I’ve done obstacle-based training, rather than callisthenics reps. I go to a playground with monkey bars and swing across while doing pull-ups and leg raises. I practice rolls and do crawls.

And if I’m really that tired. I try to get 20 minutes of spontaneous activity and rest.

This break in routine usually works out much better.

5. Is your way of fitness actually fun?

Lastly, I’m getting the sense that you are working out just to look good physically. You seem to have lost the sense of fun.

“anyways im not getting fatter like i was afraid to”

College wrestling for fitness

I’ve mentioned before in this post that working out solely for aesthetics (looks) is boring. There just isn’t an intrinsic value to continue once you hit your goals.

Instead, find a sport or routine that gets you excited. Restore the element of fun in your workouts. And this usually happens when you’re training for skill rather than looks.

Consider this… When you were a child, would you look forward to a game of tag or a monotonous exercise routine?

Probably the game, yes? Even if you are feeling sleepy…

So what makes you think that being an adult is any different?

Do what you enjoy for fitness and you will want to do it at the end of the day.

Bonus: Enjoy your life as a University student

You are only going to be young once. Live in the moment and make the best of your time at university.

More tips and advice

If you’ve noticed, I’ve talked about many of these things in my previous posts. Here are a few that you’ll find useful.

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