Refresh after freshers’ week. A few sporting, healthy tips to help keep you going for the next eight weeks

Steph Hampshire 13 October 2007

Steph Hampshire

So maybe you’ve overdone it a bit trying to cram everything into just four days before lectures start. How on earth can you sustain yourself over the next eight weeks of term and survive until Christmas still in one piece? Whether you’re a fresher or not, here are just a few tips to get you thinking about you and your lifestyle.

For starters, eat well: it may seem like a simple thing to do, but often on a limited budget you tend to scrimp and save on food in order to spend more in the bar or on buying that special costume for the bop!

Underestimating the importance of fruit and veg, I returned home after my first term looking as my mother dearest could only describe as grey and washed out; she attributed it to a lack of fruit and veg, which was true, but I secretly knew too many cocktails at The Cow didn’t help matters.

Everyone harps on about getting your five portions a day of fruit and veg, but to be honest is that actually going to happen? I’ve recently found a simple yet effective way to get some of the vitamins and minerals you need: gorge yourself on delicious homemade smoothies using fruit from the market. They can be much cheaper than buying ready made ones and much less sugar, so they are better for you too.

Pick up a cheap hand blender or smoothy maker from the supermarket and you’re away! Plus, it’s a perfect excuse to invite people over for smoothy parties as long as the summer sunshine lasts. In addition to that, those reliable multi-vitamins always work a treat to keep your nutritional needs topped up.

Secondly and somewhat related: drink well. As I’m sure you’ve all been told enough times, go easy on the boozing. Going out on the lash seven nights in freshers’ week may seem like a great plan, but trying to keep up that pace all term just won’t happen; when you collapse in a heap of exhaustion and flu in week five, with a huge work backlog to catch up on over the holidays, you won’t be thanking yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about every once in a while taking a break and just chilling out, giving your liver a bit of a break in the process. Cambridge is all about working hard and playing hard, but make sure you are getting that balance, and most importantly make sure you get some ‘you’ time as it’s often forgotten.

That brings me to the next point of making sure you get enough sleep. In my first year (writing this makes me feel old!) I ended up trying to cram everything I possibly could into the day. Often, I’d come back home at 3am and then get up for rowing at 6am. As a result my recall of lectures rapidly declined; I was pushing my body to the limits both on the dance floor and on the river. I thought I was invincible, but in the end I had to accept that there was no way to sustain it!

Sometimes it’s useful to write down the time you finally get into bed (after spending countless hours doing nothing on facebook) and the time you actually get up. If you work out the number of hours of sleep you’re really getting each night, you’d be surprised how infrequently you get those precious minimum eight hours. Then again, there is plenty of time to sleep when you’re old!

As the chilly Cambridge winter closes in and the dark evenings loom over us, it’s important to keep active and get your 30 minutes a day of exercise. Join a gym (see our review in next weeks issue) or pop along to all the countless sports squashes you signed up for in freshers week.

Just give in to ultimate frisbee or delve into a spot of mixed netball, and get out there, meeting some new people, no matter how long you’ve been in Cambridge. Get fit, make some new buddies and get those endorphins kicking! However, you don’t have to be on a sports team to make sure you are getting what you need.

With Cambridge being a fairly compact city it’s easy to walk or cycle most places and get some fresh air away from that stuffy room or library. If you are feeling even more adventurous you might like to venture out of the city bubble and take a weekend off. Even one day, just taking your bike further than the one-way system, can be a refreshing ‘mini-break’ from the Cambridge atmosphere.

You could even take a punt to Granchester, weather permitting, or head to Ely or the fens for the day to escape to the countryside. Whether it’s far or near, just escaping the notorious Cambridge bubble for a day can help keep your head and health, and most importantly maintain your perspective.

Playing sport for relaxation and fun is a great way to let off steam, but sometimes it can become stressful in itself. That rush or buzz when you score a goal or win a race makes all your hard work pay off, but the last thing you want is to spend your last few weeks of term and Christmas holidays recovering from pneumonia from all those frozen mornings on the river; likewise you could be laid up with your arm in plaster from an over-enthusiastic misplaced tackle on the rugby pitch. So play hard, but don’t let something that is supposed to be enjoyable become a chore.

So, I hope I’ve given you a few new tips, but in case I’ve bored you to tears with info that you already knew, just remember one thing that will certainly keep you going for the next eight weeks: life is fast paced in Cambridge, but that doesn’t mean you always have to be!