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Student Wellness Programme at the Mardyke Arena 8-Week Challenge-Week One

I’ve been struggling with my health habits for a very long time. As a 21st century student, the vast majority of my time is spent sitting down, be it in a lecture, in the library while studying or finishing up with assignments, on the bus on my way to town or even writing this very article. I’ve been trying to figure out the best and most time-efficient way to keep healthy, while also not putting myself under too much pressure to stick to a routine. Needless to say, my attempts have failed.

I’ve tried the gym and got too intimidated by the people beside me who are running 500 kilometres an hour on the treadmill without even busting a sweat, while I was huffing and puffing my way round the second lap of the machines virtual track. I’ve also tried tracking my steps, but I always seem to find myself ignoring my phone’s step counter a few days after I start because I’m “too busy to walk”, or thinking up some stupid excuse to get out of it. I’ve tried everything. Everything except a Fitbit and the new Student Wellness Programme at the Mardyke Arena.

As a UCC student (as I assume the majority of you reading this are), I have free access to the Mardyke Arena, and it wasn’t so long ago that I saw an ad online looking for participants for an 8-week Student Wellness Programme, so I put my name down, and it wasn’t long before the Mardyke got in touch, asking was I still interested in taking part. I was, and here I am.

In the first session, Andrew Burns, the programme co-ordinator, sat me down and explained the programme. The programme is 8-weeks long, and involves attempting to walk the recommended 10,000 steps, drink the recommended two litres of water and try to keep track of your food consumption, all through the Fitbit app itself. Each participant in the course is given a Fitbit, an activity tracker and movement data-collector that you wear on your wrist, and is asked to try their best to reach up to 10,000 steps a day. The importance of sleep, water and nutrients is stressed to everyone in attendance and within half an hour of setting foot in the Mardyke (for the first time in quite a while may I add!) I was leaving with a Fitbit and a clear wellness plan. At the end of the day, that’s all I really needed.

So I started walking. During this first week, I’ve found myself trying to walk as much as possible, and often achieving well over the 10,000 steps simply by just walking between lecture theatres and walking to the likes of society events and what not. To be brutally honest, it actually seemed as though it was too good to be true. But then I hit the weekend, and believe me, it was a whole other ball game. It seems as though as soon as I made it through the door of my house following the 2-hour commute from Cork, I just stopped moving. Suddenly nothing was close enough to walk to, and I found myself driving everywhere. At the same time, I was trying to get a head start on assignments and I had an exam on Monday that I was trying to study for all weekend, so I didn’t really have time to go for long walks, instead I found myself pacing up and down my room trying to rack up steps. I don’t think that’s exactly what Andrew had in mind, but it’s the best I could do.

So one week down, how am I finding it? It’s really easy when I’ve somewhere to be and places to walk to, but I already get the sense that as soon as the pressure of college racks up those steps are going to come crawling back down, and I suppose that’s the challenge. I have 8 weeks to get the right balance, 10,000 steps isn’t too bad, I just hope 5,000 of them won’t involve pacing up and down my own stairs.