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Opinion: How Islington Students Can Balance Academic and Outdoor Pursuits

Academic study and sporting pursuits are both important to many Londoners, but how can we combine the two? Chiara Fiorollo investigates…

Image Credit: Wildfire Comms
Image Credit: Wildfire Comms


Despite all of today’s technological innovations, the increase in their responsibilities, the need to be constantly up-to-date and the long days spent in the university library, many students still find time to participate in a range of sports and physical activities.

Some go to the gym, some to the swimming pool, others play football, tennis or basketball; no matter how much time their studies take away from them, their dedication to physical activity is still strong enough to ensure they keep an hour or so free for these activities. And, surprisingly, this seems to have a positive impact on their studies.

Some students, like Hassan Lantry, a second-year Mathematics and Finance undergraduate at UCL, believe that sport can help you strenghten your discipline and time-managent skills.

“Doing sport may not help you get good marks directly,” he says, “But it can motivate you a lot, it can give you that mindset which can then help you be successful in your studies.

“Training gives me a lot of balance and happiness, so if I had to reduce it because of exams, I would do it for sure, but only for a short amount of time!”

Islington Council is supportive of on the important role that sport has in people’s lives and it seems to push young people to engage in a lot of activities, with the Sport Islington Awards Ceremony being a clear example of this.

Its main aim? To motivate young athletes in the borough to do their best in the sport which they practice.

Hosted by Sport Islington – an organization run by Islington Council which calls itself “the voice for voluntary sport in Islington” – in collaboration with Islington Schools Sports Partnership, the event takes place once a year in the summer in the Town Hall (pictured left).

town-hallDuring the last Ceremony, Sport Islington chairman Michael MacNeill said he was pleased to see “such sporting talent within Islington” and stressed the importance of recognizing, supporting and celebrating those who are performing well.

For many young people like these, maintaining an athletic routine provides a means to to let tension off and take a break from their busy lives.

Hicham Laraqui, a second-year Business Studies student at City, University of London, explains how he manages his time: “I usually train 4 to 5 times a week, rarely on lectures and seminars days. I also do a cardio activity at least twice a week and I always play football.

“Sport has a positive influence on my studies: it wakes me up and makes me more focused and motivated. But I try to adapt my frequency according to the deadlines. If I am not up-to-date I put work above sport, but if I’m on time I can keep my routine.”

It seems, then, that sport can really help benefit your mind as well as your body in times of academic stress, making you more productive and organized.

As Othman, a postgraduate International Relations student at IE University, agrees: “It drives a positive sense of accomplishment which allows you to be in a positive mood. Also, aerodynamic sports oxygenate your brain and help you to be more focused.”

Image Credit: Huffington Post
Image Credit: Huffington Post

However, despite the positive attitude many students have towards sport, some academics do not completely agree on the effects it has on academic study. A research project conducted by American clinician and instructor Donna Merkel highlights both the positive and negative effects sport can have on young athletes.

Among the backlashes sport can cause, there is a risk of injury, which can have a negative impact on students’ social life, as well as studies. Donna Merkel also adds that early sport specialization can also cause anti-social behavior in students.

That said, many gyms in Islington, such as Lift Gym, CitySport and Ironmonger Row Baths, offer cheap memberships to students which are only likely to keep attracting them: this stimulates them to do more and more sport on account of its affordability.

For many students, keeping fit is one of the most important aspects of their life and they couldn’t imagine giving up their workout routine for a long time. Studying and exercising at the same time is thus a completely feasible balancing act.

Clearly your deadlines and coursework are no longer plausible excuses for laziness – all you need to do is buy a new tracksuit and head to your future gym as soon as possible!

Be sure to let us know your take on whether balancing your work life with physical pursuits is feasible on Facebook or Twitter!

Written by Chiara Fiorillo

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