A new year, a new body

Losing weight often ranks high on people’s lists of New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, many people don’t even keep that resolution one month.

As the American population becomes more and more overweight, sticking to this New Year’s resolution is more crucial than ever. Even if you are not overweight, maintaining a healthy body is just as important. Yet exercise often gets pushed to the wayside by classes, work, and extracurricular activities. Students often overlook and dismiss exercise as a priority. But you do not have to put in hours every day at a gym to see results and feel physically better. Consider the following fitness ideas to help you stick to your New Year’s resolution of creating a healthier you.

We pay for a membership to fitness facilities, whether we use them or not. Skibo and the University Center gyms are great places to begin your new fitness programs. They offer a variety of fitness options, even for those who dread the thought of using dumbbells or walking on a treadmill: Skibo has courts for badminton, basketball, and volleyball, while the UC allows students access to its eight-lane pool, racquetball and squash courts, and gyms for basketball and volleyball.

The UC sponsors a number of intramural and club sports, as well as group exercise classes that often include body sculpting, indoor cycling, Pilates, step, Tai-Chi, and yoga.

For those who would rather exercise outdoors, Gesling Stadium is always an option. The Astroturf field is lined for both football and soccer games, and the eight-lane all-weather track is great for a late night study break walk or run since the field is always lighted. In addition to the stadium, the six tennis courts across from the UC are also lighted and allow for nighttime exercise. If you are a student who lives off campus, there are easy fitness opportunities for you as well. Many Pittsburgh streets are lined with sidewalks that make walking or jogging a convenient fitness option. Schenley and Frick parks have multiple trails for running, walking, or biking in addition to large open spaces for games of Frisbee or football.

Fitness options are numerous on campus, and there is something for almost everyone. It is important to remember that exercising does not have to be an hour-long sweat session on a treadmill in the gym; any activity that gets your heart pumping is considered a workout.

One thing to keep in mind when beginning to exercise is to take it easy at first and not to overdo it. Overexerting yourself when beginning a new program can do more harm than good to the body. Injury from overuse or pure physical burnout may occur, both of which may deter a person from meeting certain fitness goals.

Students should know what they are getting into by creating an exercise regimen before they decide to dive in headfirst. Students with pre-existing health conditions like heart disease, muscular dysfunctions, and diabetes should consult their physician before beginning a serious exercise program. Consulting a personal trainer or an exercise specialist may also be helpful when learning how to operate different weight machines or finding a target heart rate.