During quarantine, staying active was no small task. It was easy to brush the priority of physical fitness aside because, with nowhere to go, there was no reason to look fit. Many people just avoided exercise altogether. Yet others dove headfirst into working out, coming out of quarantine more fit than before.
Even now, it is easy to ignore one's body in pursuit of education. With finals rapidly approaching, many students at Mississippi State University find themselves wondering why now is the time to invest in physical health.
Mary Spencer Little, a freshman special education major, is a coach for Beachbody, an online workout program.
"During quarantine, we didn't have much to do at all," Little said. "So, at first I was doing a lot of at-home workouts. One of my friends had been posting about these Beachbody workouts, so I texted her. And I was like, 'Heck yeah, that sounds like fun.'"
Beachbody offers a variety of online workouts that one can do from home or at the gym. At-home workouts are a good way to stay active without having to leave the comfort of home, apartment or dorm. There are many different at-home workouts that students can utilize to avoid leaving the house and limiting contact.
"One of the easiest things you can do, especially right now because the weather is beautiful and our campus is beautiful, is to get outside. Go on a walk, pop in your headphones and listen to whatever you want to. Get outside, and start walking. Start there, or go to the Sanderson. They have some really fun workouts," Little said.
As the trees are changing colors, MSU's campus seems to be beckoning students to soak up the cooler weather by going for a walk or a run. Students can recruit friends to walk with them or call someone from home and catch up while walking.
Other options, as Little addressed, include going to the Joe Frank Sanderson Center. Paige Spacek, a senior education major and an instructor at the Sanderson, encourages other students to get on their feet and get moving.
"A good piece of advice is always to push yourself because you will never know what you are capable of until you do it," Spacek said. "Push yourself to get further and further in those little goals to help you reach your larger goal."
As a student, however, it can be hard to balance doing schoolwork, being social and working out.
"It is hard to balance everything. My hip hop classes are fine because I love dancing. But you may have to sacrifice time for studying to work out. So, it's making sure you have a little graphic organizer or planner to help you keep track," Spacek said.
As Spacek did, finding something that is enjoyable helps to make working out interesting. In addition to that, getting a planner or utilizing the calendar app on one's phone can help students to balance studying and working out.
"Have that good mindset that this is what your body needs, and it will pay off in the end," Spacek said.
The Sanderson does have restrictions regarding COVID-19. Meridith Nuckolls, the fitness coordinator for University Recreation at MSU, addresses these restrictions.
"These are things we have to do to stay healthy," Nuckolls said. "It is keeping the people we care about healthy. It is a place of respect that it comes from now."
Wearing a mask is a campus-wide policy. At the Sanderson, there are some exceptions. The Sanderson offers group exercise classes with a limited capacity. This allows 12 feet in between members while working out. Due to the distance between those working out, masks are not required in group exercise classes. However, the instructors are required to wear a mask or face shield while teaching.
"For the people that working out is really part of their life, this became their routine," Nuckolls said.
Wearing masks and distancing oneself is only a small roadblock on the road to progress. As students stay healthy and follow the rules, the restrictions become routine. During uncertainty, taking care of one's body is important to prioritize. Working out is an integral part of staying healthy, both physically and mentally.
"I really feel like the benefits that you have in the gym take you far beyond what you see in here, and they take you throughout the rest of your lives," Nuckolls said.
Whether students work out at the gym, at home or outdoors, any type of movement is beneficial.
"When you are working out on a regular basis you are going to increase those good chemicals in the body that tell you that you are happy, you are healthy, you are safe and you are loved," Nuckolls said.
This semester may not look like what students hoped for, but maintaining good habits is still important all the same.