The secret to improving your university experience: sport

Each time I went to the gym this summer I was greeted with “No one ever said: ‘wow I really regret that workout’” on the wall of the entrance, which is perhaps a bit too much like something someone’s parents would share on Facebook. However, after initially rolling my eyes every time I saw it I eventually started to realise it was right.

Workouts, and sport in general, always seemed to improve my mood and the only time I’ve regretted them is when I haven’t fully applied myself. I’m aware that that’s probably as cheesy as the wall of my gym at home, but I genuinely think doing a sport is one of the best things about university life.

My first reason is that is that it’s basically the easiest way of making friends. You and a group of people get together and you all have at least one shared interest (your sport of choice). The fact of the matter is that it might be more than you have in common with your flatmates from halls. After that, you see each other multiple times a week, in training, playing matches, in the gym and at socials. When you train together you must work together and that teamwork often translates itself into friendships. While it’s true that these might not be your strongest friendships, it’s nice to share some sort of bond.

Another reason is the socials. I can say that without a doubt some of the most fun I’ve had at university has been on socials. Everything from the coach journeys home to the weekly socials on a Wednesday and watching international rugby games. At the very least, socials are memorable, and they’ll easily be some of your most fun nights (and days) of your time at university.

Also, sport simply makes you feel good. As the workload gets too much, you can often find relief, or at least a change of scene when you do sport. Add to that the endorphins that are released when you exercise and you’ll usually find yourself feeling better. Furthermore, a study done by Pennsylvania State University in 2014 discovered that those that were active regularly did significantly better in memory tests, and those that had exercised that morning did even better still. Sport also helps you with small things that you always take for granted. For example, climbing the stairs to the fourth floor of the library when the lift is full, or carrying the weekly shop home from Lidl.

Finally, sport makes you more responsible, as you have training sessions to go to and games to play and enables you to schedule your life better. For me personally, knowing that I had training on a Monday and Friday and a game on a Wednesday enabled me to plan the rest of my week more effectively. It also helps to show you that things won’t always go your way and allows you to deal with your failures. As in sport, much like in life, you’ve got to lose sometimes.

The Univerity of Edinburgh has so many sports on offer including rugby, tennis, football, archery and athletics. Even if you don’t fancy playing against other universities you can play in the intramural leagues where students from different schools compete against each other every week. I signed up to play rugby at the freshers’ sports fair in first year but that’s not the only way to do it. Most clubs have Facebook pages you can join and get information from. That being said, the sports fair is well worth a visit, just because of how many different sports you’ll see, some of which you’ve probably never heard of.

Image: Andreas via Flickr

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