Applied for courses? Check. Hall of residence application? Check. Sign up for university sports team? Huh?

Congratulations, you’ve just come to the end of the exciting and emotional escapade we call high school. Now its time to think about the next step in your life journey, and you’ve chosen tertiary study. It’s a stressful time for you soon-to-be freshers, as you settle into your new lifestyle as an adult in the real world. But if you can find a break from wading through the hundreds of emails from Sue in the enrolment department, you need to remember a very important part of university life – being active. As a graduating student I can tell you that the only thing that saved me from a mental breakdown at university is playing sport. It is estimated that around half of people who were involved with sports throughout school stop playing after they graduate. But sport is not something you grow out of. So why should you keep playing?

First of all, no, you are not too busy to join a sports team. I’ve heard this excuse time and time again. You’re telling me you can’t find one single hour free during the week to play a game of *insert sport here* with your friends? I have been in the same boat, I know it is a busy time. They say, “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and boy can I relate. Having spent the last three years balancing full time university study, a part time job and playing in three different university sports teams, I know a thing or two about time management, especially in first year. You’re spending most of your time playing email ping pong with Sue from enrolment and Googling “how to avoid the fresher five”, but there are so many benefits to playing sport at university that will make your entire experience so much better.

As much as your parents may be envisioning you holed up in the library from dawn til dusk like the model student they raised you to be, it will, without a doubt drive you insane. You are young, you need to look after yourself. Get outside, breathe the fresh air, feel the sun on your pale malnourished student skin. You can’t study and expect to get good grades if your life doesn’t have a good balance. It is recommended that an adult should do at least two and a half hours of exercise per week to stay healthy. If you’re anything like me, when it comes to getting up and going to the gym I have just about the same amount of motivation as money in my bank account, aka very little. But a great way to get around this lack of drive to exercise is to join a sports team. This way, you get to be active with like minded people which will give you incentive to get up and moving.

I understand sport is not for everyone. At some stage in my life I had to give up my dream of becoming an Olympic water polo player. But once I accepted the fact that not being able to swim was a key issue holding me back, I realised that there actually are many more ways to stay active at uni. For those with moves like Jagger, you could try Zumba or other dance classes. If you’re more about the gains you could hit the weights room for some quality time with the dumbbells. And for those of you who still yell Kobe when sinking a successful shot, you could join a social or competitive basketball league. Why not get out there and make some new friends doing something that is fun and keeping you healthy.

I may be biased, because I’ve always played sport. Why do I love it so much? I’ve made some fantastic friends, managed to stay healthy through my university life and had an excuse to wear activewear while doing very inactive things. You may still be on the fence, not entirely convinced that sport at university is for you. But I encourage you to get out and try sport even just once. You never know, you may find a hidden talent that you didn’t know you had.

Victoria University of Wellington student and UTSNZ student rep Ellie McManaway is in her third and final year of a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology with Criminology as a minor. During this time, Ellie has represented Victoria in four different codes at the national tertiary championships (netball, volleyball, 3×3 basketball, 5×5 basketball). Her prowess has extended to NZ age group representation too – in volleyball and basketball. Ellie has received a Victoria University Blues Award for her achievements and was awarded the TeamVic Netball Club Sportsperson of the Year last year. 

Source: UTSNZ

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