Keeping your heart healthy during the uni semester

This week is Heart Week – an opportunity to shine a spotlight on heart disease and the heart health of all Australians. If you're young, you might think you have years, or even decades, before it's time to worry about heart disease. But heart health merits your attention no matter what your age. How you manage your health now could have long-term effects reaching well past your undergraduate years.

Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. Regular exercise can help you burn calories, lower your blood pressure, reduce "bad" cholesterol and boost "good" cholesterol … all which make for a healthy heart.

It's never too late to start exercising, and you don't have to be an athlete. Once you get going, you'll find it pays off.

Top 4 exercise tips for a healthy heart while at university:

  1. Find an activity you enjoy
    What sounds like fun? Would you rather work out on your own or in a class? Do you want to exercise in a gym, at home, or outdoors? If you find an activity you enjoy you will be more likely to stick with it. For instance, you could join a University sporting team, running club, or swimming squad. I encourage you to check out what sports and activities are on offer at UQ Sport … there is something for everyone.
  2. Reduce your sitting time
    Excessive sitting time can be a problem for students, particularly if you are one who tends to ditch the in-person lectures for more leisurely study online. Too much sitting is not good for your heart. It can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity, and over long periods of time can contribute to chronic diseases and early mortality.  You can reduce your sitting time during long study periods by standing and taking a break from your computer or desk every 30 minutes. Use the stairs to get to classes, and stretching during breaks in long lectures. When you're talking on the phone, walk around instead of sitting.
  3. Exercise without really exercising
    There are lots of easy ways to boost incidental exercise while at uni. Incidental exercise is the exercise we get during daily activities and can be done in little bite-size chunks throughout the day. Engaging in more incidental activity can help to boost your daily energy expenditure and keep your metabolism going. Some sure-fire ways to embrace incidental exercise at uni are by walking to and from class the long way, parking your car further away from campus, choosing active transport to get to uni such as walking or cycling, or walking during breaks from class. Be active when you catch up with friends – instead of meeting for a coffee, go for a walk around campus instead.
  4. Find cheap exercise alternatives
    When money is tighter than your workout leggings and that gym membership is out of reach even with a student discount, there’s no better time to get savvy about some cheap exercise alternatives. Explore local walks around campus, or go for a jog. Not only will you save on gym membership, but it will get you outdoors which will also be great for your mental health as well as your heart health.

How exercise can help during exam time:

During exam time it is easy to live in your little study bubble and sometimes it is hard to escape that when you have multiple exams looming.  Exercise has been shown to enhance brain function and memory, which at this time of year is always good.

Exercise can also help reduce stress levels  – so avoid that last minute freak out by taking a break for a work out between your study sessions. Less stress equals a healthier heart.

Australian Guidelines for exercise:

Exercise for 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise (able to talk but requires some effort) or 75-150min of vigorous activity exercise (makes you breath harder and faster). 

AND
Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

AND

Include 2 strength training days per week.

Last updated:
3 May 2017