DePaul students alter fitness habits post-pandemic

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A biker riding down Fullerton Avenue. Many students use biking as a way to get around campus. Photo by Carlyn Duff/The DePaulia

January and February are the busiest time of the year for gyms, as many people’s New Year’s resolution is to start being more healthy. Now nearing a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, many have turned to fitness as a way to keep their mind and body aligned. 

For DePaul students, the commutes on the CTA, and walking across campus allowed a small window of extra physical activity. If you’ve ever almost missed your train at the Fullerton stop, you’re familiar with the sprint you have to do to make it in on time.

The beginning of quarantine showed students just how much they rely on their bodies to function throughout the day. A full day of classes on campus as opposed to a full day of classes in your room feels very different to your body. 

“A lot of students don’t have a good work life balance, so making sure you’re getting up and moving whether that’s doing an at home workout, an at home yoga session for 10 minutes, anything like that to protect your body and keep your joints moving,” physical therapist Chloe Moreno said.

Issues like back and neck pain are common for students who spend hours sitting in one spot while doing homework, which is why scheduling time to get up and move is essential. It’s not always that easy though – similar to decreased motivation in classes and homework, many students have found it difficult to prioritize their diets.

“It wasn’t until more recently that I became more health conscious just because of the weight that I gained, during the early days of the pandemic finally caught up to me. I feel slow, bloated, and overall less motivated, all due to what I’ve been putting into my body these past few months,” DePaul graduate student Elizabeth Arciniega-Feliz said. 

DePaul graduate student Elizabeth Arciniega-Feliz has taken to at-home workouts to stay healthy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arciniega-Feliz)

But despite some of these obstacles, Feliz has remained resourceful during the pandemic.

“Eventually I built a mini gym in my friends garage where we workout out almost every day,” Arciniega-Feliz said. 

For students who are normally rushing from class to class, nutrition oftentimes becomes secondary on their list of priorities. Now that students are studying from home, they have the opportunity to be more health conscious and purposeful with their meals.

“Increase fresh fruit that are high in antioxidants; also consuming fruits and veggies assist with hydration, especially if you are an avid coffee drinker which tends to dehydrate the body,” plant-based dietician Yessenia Vazquez said.

The fitness world has had to revolutionize during the pandemic in order to make getting healthy more accessible to people. There are many reasons that people dislike gyms such as fear of judgment, harassment from men, or lack of knowledge on how to maneuver equipment. Covid-19 has pushed people to strategize how and where they can start with their fitness. 

For those who still do not feel comfortable going to the gym despite many being reopened, many trainers have changed their programs for at home use. You no longer need to be in person at the gym to get a sweat in. Competitors in the fitness industry such as Peloton, or Mirror, have been peaking because of their online classes and fitness experience. CNN reported that Peleton’s quarterly profit was up by 172 percent in September. 

Tik Tok, one of the most downloaded apps, has been a favorite for students during the pandemic. While many recognize Tik Tok for its catchy dances and music, it has now expanded its platform for people to post their workout routines and healthy recipes. The app allows users to post their own personalized content and take us through what muscle groups they isolate on that day, and how they meal prep.

“Another great option with 10 minutes of prep is to pre-make a protein smoothie and carry it with you throughout the day. Mixing a protein with carbohydrate will last longer in your system as it balances your blood sugars,” Vazquez said. Convenience for students is huge, which is why a simple shake may appeal to students on the go. 

Also trending on Tik Tok are hauls for gym clothes where people share and try on their favorite workout clothes that focus on style, comfort and mobility. Many have turned to Amazon for affordable workout clothes – most recently the workout legging “Tsutaya” has gone viral on Tik Tok, for their style and comfort. Many of these videos are made to motivate people to look and feel confident while they work out. 

Since young adults account for a big chunk of Tik Tok users, many rely on the app for relatable content. 

“I see all these before and after videos on that platmore more than Instagram, and truly appreciate the content,” Feliz said. 

Regularly working out has been proven time and time again to help with sleep and depression. In a world where days feel like people have too much time on their hands or no time at all, exercise remains a constant resource for students to maximize their days.