With gamedays, fall activities, and perfect weather for enjoying the abundance of hiking trails around Northwest Arkansas, October is a month that is full of excitement around campus. However, all of this excitement comes along with the stress of midterms and a busy semester.
Fitober is an initiative that University Recreation officials are offering to encourage students to build healthy habits and find stress relief during the busy month.
Students participating in Fitober sign up to track at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week during October. If they reach 600 minutes by the end of the month, students will receive a Chartwells discount code and have their name entered in a drawing for additional prizes.
“Getting out and being physically active can help with stress reduction,” Casey Fant, the university’s assistant director of fitness and wellness said. “Building those endorphins can help students deal with stress and anxiety, especially during test time.”
UREC officials picked October as the month to implement the fitness program due to the high stress that comes with exams and the pleasant weather, which makes it easy for students to get outside and get active, Fant said. October is a good month for students to build healthy habits before November and December set in.
The UREC offers many programs students can take advantage of to stay healthy and improve their wellbeing, Fant said. Students can walk one of the routes around campus, take a group fitness class, attend climbing and floating trips through UREC Outdoors, participate in intramurals and club sports, play tennis at the new tennis facility,or explore one of the hiking trails in the area.
Another option for students is UREC’s small group training offered, Fant said. Students sign up for a six week class with six to eight participants, and are led by an instructor throughout the session.
If students are looking for a more general sense of wellness, they can visit the UA wellness website to explore the wellness coaching program, Fant said.
“Wellness coaching is available,” Fant said. “Students can sign up to schedule an appointment with a wellness coach to identify areas they want to focus on, which could be physical activity, and in general working toward overall wellness.”
Another program offered by the UREC is the yoga program. Rachael Foster, a graduate student studying psychology, teaches yoga at the UREC Fitness Center. Although Foster started teaching a little over a year ago, her personal yoga journey started during her first year of high school, and she said she has seen numerous mental and physical health benefits.
“It’s really kind of saved my life in some ways,” Foster said. “Like at a specific point in my life, I was really not doing well and I went to a yoga class, and I was laying in shavasana and I was in a really dark time, and I had this realization of the beauty and the gravity of having a body on earth, like how wild that is. It was really like an ‘aha’ moment that changed the course of my life and if I wouldn’t have gone to yoga I wouldn’t have had that.”
Gweneth Kuhns, a junior majoring in public health, works for the UREC Fitness Center. She said the facility’s administrators focus on accessibility for all students because exercise can lead to higher grades. There is also a lower dropout rate for students who use the UREC facilities, Kuhns said.
Foster said yoga has always kept her grounded, and the meditation and mindfulness aspects have been beneficial to her and her students’ mental health.
Foster’s style of teaching reflects the spiritual and mindful aspects of yoga, she said. She encourages her students to keep this awareness throughout the day, applying this practice to their daily lives.
Bella Thompson, a first-year student from Tulsa, Oklahoma, studying political science, said she attends yoga classes at the UREC Fitness Center regularly, and she recommends anyone to take them.
“Yoga has been super fun,” Thompson said. “I really enjoy taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the day to unwind and relax, it’s super fun getting to meet new people there. It really helps me take a step back and unwind.”
While all teachers are different, yoga does not have to be an intense form of exercise, and Foster tries to keep her classes relaxed. With midterms coming up, all students can take advantage of the free yoga classes to stay calm and manage stress, Foster said.
By joining the Fitober challenge, students can take advantage of the season to its fullest while staying physically active and managing stress. The multitude of health and wellness resources on campus are available to help students feel their best.