Balancing fitness with school, family and friends is already a difficult task for most students, but usually school takes precedence.
“Time is a big factor,” said university transfer student Durim Maloku. “When you work out for two hours, you think, ‘I could’ve spent that time doing homework.'”
Heavy engineering courses take up most of Maloku’s time. “You feel a little guilty about [working out] because you need a high GPA.”
When asked to list his priorities, he said: “Education, family and friends, fitness. With education being first.”
Langara YMCA program manager Daniel Sam said: “It is such a damn shame that students are where they are at. The competition in education and in society is getting so stiff that to go anywhere with your degree or to get into the next stage of your education, be it SFU or UBC, you have to rack up some impressive GPAs. . . . It’s understandable that students will put fitness as a discretionary activity and it gets put on the lowest priority on their list.”
When Sam attended Simon Fraser University, he found exercise a necessity. “My semesters of greatest results and productivity were the ones that I forced myself to take classes where there was physical activity involved. Be it a kinesiology course or a fine performing arts dance class.
“With a full load, 15 credits, and three of them were dance classes,” he said. “Six hours a week. It’s like gold. Every minute is like fricking gold.”
Sam believes exercise will help students be more productive. “Their stress load will be significantly reduced. It really respects the universal law that says, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’ I know students are busy but if they go one more inch to add this further on, the payoff is huge.”
Add in cold weather and motivation to exercise goes down even further
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute said adults and children are more active on warmer days and on days when it is not raining or snowing.
Maloku agrees. “Weather is a factor, especially when it’s cold and rainy. I work out more during the summer.”
Regarding low fitness activity, Sam said, “The big part of it is the role of stress in everybody’s lives.
“If they have to deal with mortgage payments or deal with cleaning out the gutter before the rains come or having issues with relationships, then you throw into the mix the more challenging weather, then it’s easy peasy thing to forget about what they consider as luxury activity which is exercise.”
Sam said, “[People] have not developed the value or come to appreciate exercise for how critical it is in their lives.”
In the podcast below, Sam shares some tips on remaining active all year round.
Reported by Deanna Cheng and Jesse Adamson