The exercise thread


I don't know whether I read this in The People or something, but apparently exercise is supposed to be good for you. Not only for the obvious stuff like creating a body temple or toning up, but also for elevating one's mood and increasing one's intelligence. I'd stick some references in, but my Athens password has been playing up today and my university only seems to subscribe to the Journal of Holistic Therapy and the Journal of Inconsequential Studies anyway.
That's where you come in. I'm not overweight (not really that much anyway) but I want to get fit, I want to get healthy. I don't want to be able to run really fast or jump really high, but I want to have a rosy glow to my cheeks and a big smile. So, what kind of exercises would you recommend? In fact, does anyone do any particular forms of exercise which they find really helpful and can recommend to everyone. Something for the women, like power walking or an aerobic step? Or something for the men, like running and weights?
This thread could be a fantastic opportunity to begin something great. I'm not going to use any of the exercises given in the Rocky movies because I'm not training to be a boxer (just trying to get through my PhD) and I don't often jog past poor Russian families whose cart of wordly goods has fallen over in the snow and needs up-righting again. I'm going to use it to chart my ascent to fitness, based on any recommendations for exercises given. But if anyone else wants to join in, the more the merrier.


Quote From walminskipeasucker:

I don't want to be able to run really fast or jump really high, but I want to have a rosy glow to my cheeks and a big smile.

Go to a bar. Order a pint. Drink said pint. Voila! Rosy glow and a big smile.

Anyhow, on the topic. Rock climbing is fun, plus you end up with lovely callused hands and its like lifting weights but you don't really notice.

The best single exercise I know is the plank (google it.) 1 min on the normal version, then 30 secs on each side everyday produces quick results.


I feel you!

I felt exactly the same, I wanted the rosy glow and smile on my face too. So, I take boxing circuit classes twice a week, and on a nice day, take a walk around campus at lunch time. The walks around campus are great, especially when I go past the coffee shop! But I really found just going to the boxing class was the best. I'm surrounded by beginners/intermediates so i don't feel like a fool that i cant punch like a muay thai fighter and most of the time the punching bag represents the PCR machine/transgenic plants that wont set seed/supervisor so i work pretty hard. At the end of it i feel great, and sleep a lot better too! Oh and i go with a friend, so gossiping is also fun!

Also, taking a class makes sure you actually work hard and gets your mind of the PhD, if i go to the gym on my own for weights/treadmill, i tend to think "oh I came, been here 30 mins now i better get home and finish writing that paper".

So there is my two cents!


Flippin' heck, Slizor, I don't know whether to thank you or curse you. I've just been trying The Plank - and that's exactly what I feel like now. Obviously, I'm missing muscles or have some really underdeveloped ones which are important for that exercise. Still, the pain has taken my mind off my PhD for now - and that's one of my aims.

Verrucasalt, thank you for your suggestions. I'll never be an Italian Stallion, but the idea of boxing sounds brill. I'm cheered by the fact that you say these places are populated with some people who are beginners. One of the reasons why I eschew the gym is because I have this expectation that it will be full of toned buffs who will make me look like a Ford Fiesta amongst a fleet of Porsches. But we all have to start somewhere... The idea of going for walks is also a good and something I can start doing tomorrow.


Why not buy a set of hand dumbells or kettleweights. You could use them at home and get a fairly decent starting 30kg set for 30-40 pounds. You could google or youtube specific exercises using the weights like lifts and squats etc?

Not that I am an expert, but I used my set last year for a few months and it made a real difference, I moved overseas and didn't take them :( But now I am back and have started using them again.


I keep fit by rowing. If you're tall I'd say give it a go. It's a fab all body exercise, gets you toned up, and if you do it competitively like me, you get to wear lycra all in ones. Get in! haha.

To train for this, I do circuit training once a week, cross training like running or cycling twice a week, flexibility and core exercises (including the plank - that's a rowers favourite), and then the rest is either indoor or on-the-water rowing.

I'd say if you don't want to do any specific sport, and just want to get a bit fitter, go jogging. You can build it up over time so you can literally start out at a complete non-runner level. Mix in some weights, sit-ups and crunches and you're sure to be looking and feeling a million dollars/pounds/euros in no time! :-)


Well I'm a woman and I do running and weights!
Can definitely reccommend joining your uni gym - you're never gonna get gym membership this cheap again, and then you can try all the classes and see what suits. Can second the recommendation of cicuit training, and if it's anything like the ones I've been too then the classes are full of beginners and undergradates who went along to keep their mate company and haven't exersized since PE at school!
Personally I run a lot. The third year of PhD seemed the perfect tme to do a marathon when putting in the application last year! Now running sometimes aas to take precidence over PhD! and defnitely does over weekend social life!


Have a look and see whether there's a jogging group in your area, it's a great way to get you out on gloomier days and much less intimidating than a full-on running club. I find running is the best escape from my phd, I never feel stressed or worried when I'm zipping about the lanes. Rock climbing is good for strength and great fun (although you'll have to hire kit and get an induction or lesson so not the cheapest). Don't worry about pseudo-rockys preening themselves by the power shake bar, the average gym or boxing class has a wide range of people and you won't feel out of place (unless you go wearing a mankini or something, obviously). If you want a quick rosy-cheek boost in between typing, try skipping! Its a staple at boxing and really gives you a work out. As for classes, give yoga some thought, it's great for relaxation but you can also work physically hard - Ommmmmmm.


Yes, Yoga is good and the stretches and holds are a great way to experience your body's limits. It definitely will give you a rosy cheek and make you feel toned, healthy and happy BUT I dont think it's the fast way forward if you want to lose a few pounds (my own experience).

I dont know why I am giving "advice" on this thread, I have not done exercise in ages - putting it off until submission... oh dear.


ooh all good ideas!! I used to ply netball at school then went to uni and never did a thing for 5 years, but upon starting my phd my boyf said the only way I'd handle the stress was to do exercise. So like a good girl I started back a the gym and it's true! I still drink (too much occasionally!) and I will never give up chocolate, sweets or buns ever ever, so it's def not for the body temple!
At the gym, I change things around a bit, but generally I do the rowing machine, which is great for just not thinking about anything except concentrating on breathing and your technique, some treadmill or cross-trainer and occasionally the weights when i know someone else there that i can chat to! My uni gym id definitely not full of super fit people, it's a real mix, in fact anyone super fit and toned tends to look a bit out of place! so don't let the thought of the gym out you off, it's not so bad! I also do a bit of scuba diving, which isn't really exercise expect when you're carrying about 70lbs of weights and tanks to and from the waters and pilates I do too, pilates is amazing for toning, not as chilled out as yoga as it's more about working the muscles but still relaxing, and I do dance classes. I find the classes are great, as I don't feel bad when I'm there, sometimes I do tend to cut the gym short if I've got a lot of work to do. But, personally, I find the best thing ever to do to get you a bit more fit and give you that rosy glow and to de stress, is dancing! Especially that home-alone-carlton-style dancing that you can do looking like a complete idiot, stick on some music and go for it!


Thank you for all your suggestions everyone. There's loads of really good ideas. I'm going to start swimming at my local pool, running and...I'm going to look for yoga classes because I'd like to try it. :-) I have a feeling it will improve my writing and it'll help break up the days as well.

I'm going to keep my progress posted, however mundane it seems, because then there's no getting out of it!


I love my exercise and find that it really does affect my mood as well, to the extent where it completely crashed when I broke my foot in December because I couldn't get my exercise fix for months! I do a variety of stuff and find different activities best for different things. I go to the gym a few times a week and do mainly cardio work on the crosstrainer, treadmill and step machine, and a few weights as well- I always take my ipod and find that sometimes I listen to the music and get lost in it and other days I barely hear the music because I am lost in my own thoughts. Often I find I go to the gym feeling stressed about something, usually having got something tiny out of all proportion, and I come out of the gym having mulled it over and got it into perspective, and I feel a lot better. I also do aerobics and kickaerobics classes- I really enjoy these and they're good if you need a distraction as you really have to concentrate on learning the routines so there's no chance of spending the whole hour worrying about your PhD or whatever. They're good fun too, especially if you drag your mates along. I did used to do a lot of competitive sports and was on a few teams (kickboxing, badminton, hockey), but to be honest I find the competitiveness quite stressful, so I have given up all of these now. I hate 'underperforming' or 'letting myself down' and it used to piss me off if I had a bad kickboxing fight or something and actually make me feel worse, so I have gotten rid of the stressful bits now and I concentrate on the stuff that makes me feel good! I also like mountain walking when the weather permits, that's good for getting a sense of perspective and some fresh air as well! I say find something you really enjoy and get satisfaction out of- then you'll stick to it and it won't be a chore! Best, KB

Avatar for Eska

Oh dear KB, you've just made me feel like a lump of wobbly grey jelly. I have mixed feelings about this thread, I, like Wal, would like that healthy, positive glow; but I'm also in a comforatble, lazy, rut. My favourite excercises are walking, swimming and dancing, but have only been walking since the snow - journeys to and from venues were at times impossible, then cold and easy to avoid.Plus my belly dancing and jazz classes have both ended. I walk four miles on a monday, to and from work places, I always take the stairs and I have a brisk jaunt around the park (about 2.5 miles every now and again, btu that's it). I through phases of being really fit and swimming 50 lengths at a time, then dancing. And then I have patches like my present one in which I turn into a come dine with me watching, semi commatose, writing and lecturing machine. The summer is coming, I must get out there. Maybe this thread will give me the umph I need. I was tempted to ignore Wal's post and remain in a comfortable denial, but I didn't - so that must mean something....


After my two months of NO exercise, I'm now off to Frankie and Benny's tonight :$


Oh Keenbean, I didn't know you were a fellow kickboxer! American or Thai? I did American for years, had to stop though as my hips no longer work properly :( Still miss a good sparring session.