Did you know this?

Many students spend most of their day – on average more than 8 hours – sitting down. Men sit still slightly more than women: 8.7 hours per day, compared to 8.1 hours. When you sit still for a long time, your muscles go into sleep mode. This means that metabolic processes no longer work as they should, fat breakdown is slowed down and concentration is reduced. Exercise is therefore good for your physical and mental health.

Benefits of exercise

Exercise has many benefits. For example, it is good for:

  • your concentration
  • your memory
  • your blood pressure
  • a healthy weight
  • a good night’s sleep
  • a relaxed feeling
  • your mental health: less chance of depression, anxiety and stress
  • strengthening your immune system

In addition to these benefits, sufficient exercise also reduces the risk of diseases such as cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity recommendations

The WHO's recommendations for physical activity indicate how much you should exercise in order to be healthy. According to these recommendations, it is best to exercise for 150 to 300 minutes at moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes at high intensity, spread over the whole week, or a combination of both: for example, walking, cycling an e-bike or wheelchair riding at a good pace for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week (moderate intensity), or 25 minutes of running, cycling or wheelchair basketball, 3 days a week (high intensity).

The table below gives you a handy overview.


A balanced exercise pattern

In a healthy exercise pattern, you alternate between sitting, standing and moving. Make a habit of moving enough. The physical activity triangle helps you determine how long (duration), how often (frequency) and at what intensity you should move.

These tips will make exercise fun and achievable:

  • Every step counts. Exercise is not just about sport. Try to move at light intensity most of the day. How about looking at the internet while standing, walking around while studying, brushing your teeth to music or having a walking lunch?
  • Also do moderate-intensity exercise on a daily basis, such as cycling to class or climbing the stairs.
  • Find nice, relaxing activities that are active. Dance, do some gardening or take a walk with friends, for example. A sport that you like is also easier to keep up and together with a regular sports friend you will be more motivated to exercise.
  • Set achievable goals. Start slowly: first increase the frequency (exercise more often), and then the intensity. This will increase your chances of success in the long term. For example, if you are not used to running, do not start with 10 kilometres.
  • Be kind to yourself. There will be times when you don't achieve your goals, perhaps because your legs don't want to go with you or because, despite your efforts, you don't have the time. Don't be too hard on yourself: nothing is lost and things will be better next time.
  • Plan a variety of possible activities. Then you can choose your exercise depending on your time, the weather, your company and your mood.
  • Plan exercise in your diary. And keep a rain alternative in reserve.

Make your personal 'list of excuses': what excuses and reasons do you use not to exercise? But also look for stepping stones: what helps you to take the step to doing exercise? The examples in the table may inspire you.


Get started

The online self-help programme Healthy Lifestyle teaches you to build a healthy lifestyle and feel better in your own skin. Fun exercise is central to the programme. Once you have completed it, you will know how to incorporate healthy exercise into your life.

Want to do more sport, but don’t know where or how?

Can’t seem to start exercising?

Is exercising just a good intention? Do you encounter the same resistance or excuses time and again? You can ask your GP to refer you to a BOV (Exercise On Referral) coach. These coaches help you to exercise every day and live healthier. More information can be found on Healthy Living. Use the search function to find a BOV coach near you.