People often associate going to the gym with visual physique, and it makes sense. Obviously when going to the gym you are exercising, building muscle, and losing fat! There are obvious visual benefits to getting into shape, and I am already seeing the difference in my own body having reduced my waist size by TWO SIZES in just THREE MONTHS. However, I must point out that along with starting to physically look better, in that my upper body is starting to get shape, and my belly is slowly going, I just feel better all round, physically and mentally.

I wrote an article a few months ago, when I had just started going to my local gym, and, as I promised myself, I’ve kept true to my word and have kept it up. A whole new load of people are about to join gyms (as they do every January) after the obligatory Christmas binge and common New Year’s resolution to “get fit and healthy this year”. I just hope that unlike most years, people who say this to themselves at midnight on 31st December, keep it up throughout the year, not just January. A quick Google search reveals that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are fitness related, and that a massive 43% give up after just one month!

My gym workout consists of 30-40 minutes on a very select few weight machines. I attend my local gym now about 2-3 times per week for a few hours (includes pool, sauna, steam room). My personal goal is to feel and look better and to achieve this I want to be bulkier in the arms and shoulders and lose my belly, whilst exercising more and feeling more energetic. To achieve this my routine is that I do 3 sets of 12 (on machines focusing on my biceps, shoulders, and chest muscles). I then move on to the abs machine, and, if I feel like it on the day, do more body exercises on the matt to try and beat the fat and get a six pack (a work in progress). The floor exercises I do include the plank, sit ups, and Russian twists. I’m still a novice but when I first started, I could barely hold the plank position for 20 seconds, I now manage almost 3 minutes. Likewise, with the Russian twists, I could do maybe 20, I’m now on 3 sets of 40.

Once I have finished my short but regular routine, I cycle. 3 months ago, I was managing 15 minutes at setting 5 on the cycle. Now I cycle for up to an hour often up to setting 10. When you look at the numbers and the progress I have made on paper, it probably doesn’t reflect the differences I’m seeing in the mirror. I have easily quadrupled my workouts, but my body is not 4 times better than it was. But what I don’t see in the mirror is how much better I FEEL.

Although I am not a student anymore, I still work on a computer for many hours, in fact a lot more nowadays than I did whilst at uni. As I’ve gotten older and developed in my career, I did at one stage lose sight of health and just put it to one side. This is a huge mistake and a compromise no one should ever make no matter how easy a trap it is to fall into. I was for instance not exercising at all, working very long hours, not eating well and not giving my eyes any rest – still guilty. Have you ever heard of the 20-20-20 rule? Look it up, in short, for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds…

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that going to the gym is not just about looking good. The non-physical benefits you get from exercising are plentiful. Exercise releases endorphins which have many benefits including reducing stress! Cardio improves circulation which results in reduced blood pressure and heart rate! Studies have shown that a reduced heart rate may improve your life expectancy! That’s right because a high resting heart can be associated with disease and adverse effects.

My aim of going to the gym is already proving a success. I am seeing physical improvements but more importantly, I feel so much better and have more energy. It’s also a great social hobby, getting out, away from the screen and pushing my body rather than my eyes! I would highly recommend that you consider joining a local gym. Often universities have onsite gyms, but machines and facilities might not match up to a local gym, and often local gyms of great deals for students! So don’t just do your course research, check out the benefits of keeping fit (or take my word for it) and search the gyms local to you. It might just help you live longer.