Health comes first: the ultimate guide to staying fit, healthy and happy in Cambridge

Mary Nower 30 October 2014

Like a high maintenance other half, Cambridge University constantly demands all your time, energy and attention. It leaves little thought for doing things like ‘looking after yourself’, ‘going outside’ and ‘choosing to eat something for a reason that’s not how quickly it can be cooked’. But it need not be this way! In reality, it is possible to stay healthy and active during term-time, even when your schedule is so hectic it feels like leaving the library is a luxury.

Michaelmas term, especially week 5, can be a drag. The nights get longer, and the supervisions just keep on coming. Despite this, I found that I had a much better term when I dedicated just a bit of time to staying healthy and active. So, I have done the hard work for you (well, until you try the ‘Couch to 5K Challenge’) and found the best ways to get fit and stay healthy in Cambridge.

Firstly, exercise. A 19-24 year old should be doing at least 75 minutes of high intensity, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (which includes cycling to lectures) per week. If you don’t mind the smell of sweat, there are some good college gyms; if you desire something more sophisticated than a treadmill and a rowing machine, however, both Kelsey Kerridge and the Glassworks gym offer student memberships. And if you prefer working outdoors, there are a huge variety of outside exercise classes on offer on both Jesus Green and Parker’s Piece, all with some hefty student discounts.

If you have the ability to exercise without someone telling you exactly what to do (which I lack), Cambridge really is a beautiful city to run through. This is especially true early in the morning when it’s not swarming with tourists or people trying to sell you punt tours! allows you to track your route in advance, telling you how far it is and how manycalories you will burn. For smartphone users, ‘Map My Run’ tracks your route as you are running. Running by the river is a favourite of many, and trying to visit every Cambridge college (well, all of them excluding Homerton and Girton) is a fun way to tour the city.

Healthy eating, meanwhile, is pretty self-explanatory. Juices only count as one of your five a day (no matter how many you drink, sadly), but on the plus side, so do baked beans and sweet potato fries. Some good library snacks, which fulfil the key criteria of snack factor (ability to get you through your essay and noise produced by consumption), are dried fruit, nuts, grapes and bananas).

And finally, the best way to stay healthy in Cambridge is to avoid stressing yourself into a frenzy. Do something that chills you out, at least once a week. Good luck!