Drop in to a healthy start

St. George campus is home to a variety of drop-in fitness programs
Hart House hosts a variety of drop-in events. STVEN LEE/THE VARSITY
Hart House hosts a variety of drop-in events. STVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Many of us want to return to summer ‘vacation mode’ — our annual opportunity to slack off on fitness, relax at the beach, or bounce around from barbecues to back porch parties. But now the reality of school, deadlines, and routines is sinking in — it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

The start of the school year is a great time to pick up some healthy habits and luckily for us, UTSG is well-equipped with athletics facilities for us to improve our health, like the Goldring Centre, Hart House, and the Athletic Centre. Hart House and the Athletic Centre both have a group fitness drop-in program. These classes are designed to offer a challenge to students, and with bi-weekly attendance you can achieve your athletic goals.

Recommended Classes

My experience with taking group drop-in fitness classes has motivated me and allowed me to get ahead on my fitness abilities.

“Nia” is a dance-based drop-in with a blend of yoga and martial arts. It’s a soulful workout and art form that leaves you feeling strong and motivated. You can attend Nia classes at Hart House or the Athletic Centre.

“Core Fusion-Balance” — my favourite fitness class — is hosted at Hart House and taught by Trainer Amanda Wolfson. The movements stem from balance training and pilates for an effective next-day feel. The class is targeted to build stability and strength in your core muscles with the use of weights and equipment.

“Movin’ Muscle” is a great way to get active. This class consists of light cardio with a main focus on toning muscle. The training involves the use of light to medium weights, according to your preference, which are incorporated in choreographed movements. Group Excersise Supervisor and Trainer Martin Phills at Hart House makes it a fun space and enjoyable workout.

The benefits of exercise

Committing to a healthy way of living will improve the quality of your life. Working out has tremendous benefits not only for the body but also the mind, and if strapped for time, working out between classes has its benefits. The Canadian government recommends that adults get two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week and that children get 60 minutes per day.

Not only does working out boost energy, but it has benefits for your mental health and can improve mood as well. Different workouts affect the body and mind in seperate ways. Aerobic exercise and strength training work to improve your mood, and physical exercise in general reduces stress levels and anxiety. Taking part in physical exercise increases the production of serotonin, which is a critical neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with good health and mental well-being.

Working out can also improve memory and learning ability. Physical activity affects the brain by increasing the amount of blood flow, therefore enriching the mind with oxygen and glucose. Cardio activities and exercises like running or cycling will increase the heart rate, which helps pump oxygen and glucose to the brain.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia also found that taking part in vigorous exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Although many of us dread cardio, it does have its benefits. However, resistance training, balance, and muscle toning exercises did not appear to have the same results on the brain.

The body, inside and out, is shaped by working out. Not only does getting active and toning muscle lead to looking good on the outside, it also contributes to overall health and wellbeing on the inside. Obesity, anxiety, and depression are a few conditions that can be managed by exercise.

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