Club Sports and Intramurals: A great way to get some exercise and become involved!

This blog post was originally published on December 9, 2014.

With the end of the semester come finals, and often, lots of stress. But the good news is at the end of the week you are done (congratulations)! Whether you finish strong or limp across the finish line, the semester is over and you cannot change the past. What you can do is enjoy your time off, get some rest, and look to the future and a fresh start in January. And if I may, I would like to make a recommendation for the spring semester: do something new and something that will help you with all that stress that school can bring. Become part of some sort of extracurricular physical activity, preferably one that gets your heart rate up.

Photo: Going up for the frisbee in the fog by Nathan Rupert, Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo: Going up for the frisbee in the fog by Nathan Rupert, Flickr Creative Commons.

Now before you say, “I don’t have time for exercise,” or “but I don’t like to exercise,” stop. One, you do have time for a little exercise, but often you will not do it unless you set aside a time for it. If you continually say, “I will exercise when I have free time,” you will always find something else you could be doing. Additionally, if you have hours and hours each month to check Facebook, tweet, Instagram, watch movies, online shop, play video games, or any other things that your normal day entails, then you likely have time for some exercise. Second, exercise will help all the other parts of your life as well. So many studies show that exercise not only improved physical health, but mental health as well including stress and depression. And if you don’t like to exercise, fear not! There are many options for exercising that don’t feel like a chore, including many club sports and intramural activities.

For me, physical activity means getting into the Carolina North Forest for runs, and joining road bike group rides in Chapel Hill. In addition to this, last year I joined the UNC Cycling Team, which includes a wide variety of individuals who have all different ability levels and who enjoy all different types of biking. Maybe this is something you would like to try, but if not, there are so many opportunities to participate in club sports, and intramural activities here at UNC. These include: basketball, soccer, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, football, rugby, and so many more. These are great opportunities to meet people, create social networks, and get exercise at the same time. These also can be really helpful for motivation on those days when you would rather just curl up in bed, but you know that getting some exercise would be good for you and you would enjoy doing it once you got out there. Not everyone is self-motivated, however, how or why you get out there is not the important thing, but rather that you get out there.

Olympian Tours Colorado Trip (by Jed Hinkley)
Olympian Tours Colorado Trip (by Jed Hinkley)

So, if you’ve wanted to become involved with some sort of sport or activity, there’s no time like the present. This is the perfect time and there are so many options to choose from. After all, college is about trying new things and meeting new people. It is also about becoming immersed in the culture and involved with the school. What better way to do that then with a bunch of other students, faculty, and staff that like doing the same things that you do. Your heart, your head, and your grades will be better for it.

Workout Wednesday: Anything but Run

Plenty of blog posts have been solely for that group of people we call “runners.”  You’ll find a post on Map My Run, including 5k and five mile routes on campus.  Also, there aretips for beginning runners and the top rated fall 2012 running shoes.

But what if you aren’t a part of this group?  Just because you don’t run doesn’t mean you can’t be fit, healthy and in shape.  There are plenty of options at UNC Campus Rec gyms that don’t involve the treadmill.

The Bike/Indoor Cycling Class: If you still want to get in some cardio but go easy on the knees and joints, get on a bike!  There are plenty of stationary bikes in the downstairs and upstairs of the SRC, as well as Rams Head Rec Center.  You can go at your own pace on these or take it up a notch and sign up for an indoor cycling class.  Here, you’ll get your fair share of speed work and hills.  You can read my review on a class here.  On the bike you can do interval training and hills, just like running, but it’s more ideal for those who hate to run or are unable to do so due to injuries.

girl on bike 5

Weight Machines: There are plenty of weight machines in both gyms.  These are grouped together so you can switch quickly between (just remember to wipe down the equipment!).  My favorite way to do these machines is to alternate between a lower body exercise (like the hamstring curl) with an upper body exercise (like the overhead press).  Then, I go through most of the machines (confession – there are a few I avoid) two or three times.  Sure, running is great exercise, but strength training is extremely important.  It will build lean muscle, tone you up and rev up your metabolism.

Dumbbells: At the gym, you’ll find everything from just a few pounds to 100-pound dumbbells.  Using a variety of dumbbells for different moves creates an extremely effective workout.  You can perform so many moves – a lunge, a bicep curl, a squat – with just a couple of weights in each hand.  Without putting your feet in front of one another, you’ll work muscles from head to toe.  Again, lifting weights is not something you should skip!  You may be sore for a week or two, but after a couple weeks of weight training, your body with thank you.

bicep curl_AA2

These are just a few options from running.  There is also the elliptical, any group fitness classes – click for schedules, the Stairmaster (which I have a love-hate relationship with), the rowing machine and even swimming.

Another great way to exercise is to do something you love.  If you’re playing an intramural sport or racquetball in Fetzer or playing tennis at the South Campus Recreation Center – you’ll be running, but you won’t even realize it.

So overall, I definitely do give a lot of love to runners.  As a runner myself, I am always reading up on how to improve, different routes to take and the latest styles – but it’s okay if you’re not a runner!  Fitness is not about being able to run a mile; it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle.  Do what you enjoy!

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on tarheeltoneup.com.