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Workouts for the student schedule

With exams, essays and major projects just around the corner it is important to remember how essential your physical health is in order to maintain mental health. UFV kinesiology instructor Brian Justin has some good tips for staying fit, focused and well balanced this school year.

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By Taylor Johnson, Paige Hoblak (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 10, 2012

With exams, essays and major projects just around the corner it is important to remember how essential your physical health is in order to maintain mental health. UFV kinesiology instructor Brian Justin has some good tips for staying fit, focused and well balanced this school year. Justin has worked as a kinesiologist for seven years and a personal trainer for over 12 years. His philosophy of fun and functional health can be applied to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Justin suggests spending an average of 20 minutes every day doing physical activity, combined with several important factors:

First of all get some sleep: It is easy to cut down on sleep whether it is from staying out late on weekends, or cramming for final exams. Sleep is essential in keeping healthy, it is recommended to get around eight hours a night, although it may be less than eight hours for some people. Simply try to get as many hours as needed in order for you to feel refreshed. With the right amount of sleep our bodies feel satisfied and are less likely to crave excess food for means of energy.

Cook and prepare meals at home. It often seems much easier to buy food from the closest place available during breaks between classes; yet this urge could lead to those extra few pounds that you were hoping to avoid. The amount of salt, oil and added preservatives in our food can only truly be controlled when cooking for ourselves. Educate yourself by looking at not only the calorie and fat content on the nutrition guide, but also the sodium and sugar content. Your findings may be surprising.

This doesn’t mean you should take all the fun out of your diet, just keep the 80/20 rule in mind: eat healthy 80 per cent of the time, and 20 per cent of the time, allow yourself to splurge with the things you enjoy – such as the university beverage of choice.

Get moving: make physical activity part of your everyday. Eventually it will become routine and something that you don’t have to think about. It can be as simple as getting off the bus two stops early every day (rain or shine) and walking to school or as simple as following Justin’s 20-minute workout routine every day.

Don’t forget to put the books down. It is important to remember your health by eating properly, drinking lots of water, reducing your sugar intake and indulging in a little change of scenery. After each hour of intense studying, put those books down and take a quick 10-minute walk.

And most importantly, have fun! Never forget to enjoy the physical activities you are doing. Instead of going to the gym to workout on the same boring machine again and again, mix things up with a new sport or a group activity. This will meet your social and physical activity needs all at once.

Twenty-minute workout from Kinesiology Professor Brian Justin

First, warm up for three minutes by briskly walking, jumping rope or walking/running stairs, followed by various stretches.

Each 30-second exercise set should be done one after the other (A-to-E) with no rest periods. This means in five minutes you should manage to do each exercise twice.  After five minutes take a one-minute break and repeat the cycles two more times.

Day one: 

1. Squats: bend at the knees with arms bent upwards. Be sure to keep knees over toes and to focus on pushing backwards. This should feel like you’re sitting on a chair.

2. Push ups: your classic push up, bending slowly at the elbows until your nose just grazes the ground and pushing back to the upward, arms straight position.

3. Side plank: From a push up position, shift onto your right side so that one leg and one elbow are being used for support. Hold your core muscles for 30 seconds. Alternate to the other side.

4. Bent over Y’s and T’s with a light book: Standing straight up and down, bend forward at the hips keeping lower back straight. Stretch out arts to the side holding the light book in one arm. Reach forward until arms are coming forward directly in front of shoulders. Switch book to other hand and repeat.

5. No Jump Burpees: Same as in high school gym class, except without the jump! From a straight up and down position squat down with hands on the floor. Shoot legs out to a push up position. Draw legs back into squat position and repeat.

Day two: 

1. Lunges: Stand straight up and down, step right leg forward as far as possible bending at the knee (knee may or touch ground depending on your strength level). Be sure that your knee does not surpass your ankle. Step back together and repeat on the left leg.

2. Bear crawls: Beginning in a crawling position (bent down onto all fours) left knees off the ground so you are balancing on your hands and your toes. Reach right leg forward and left hand forward (crawl forward). Repeat alternating sides.

3. Floor bridges: lie on your back, with knees bent upwards. Keeping shoulder blades flat on the ground, lift your lower back up by squeezing core muscles.

4. Wood chops (with textbook): Standing with legs shoulder-width apart. Hold the textbook with both hands, reaching with textbook above head turn to the right side stretching out opposite leg. Recoil back placing textbook near left hip. Repeat on alternate side.

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