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For Students: Health & Fitness

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Can you say you are fit? Would you be out of breath running to catch the bus? Could you do 100 sit ups / pull ups / press ups ? If you said, a piece of cake , then I envy you, because I'm unfit and I would struggle to even do 5 pull-ups. In fact, if I do any kind of exercise these days, like play football, I know that the next day and sometimes days after my body will be aching and I will feel stiff even if I warm up and warm down before the match. It takes me some time to recover and I usually pull a muscle. I need to join a gym.

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That said, I am quite lucky when it comes to my health, I haven't been to the doctors for years – although I am afraid of going for a check-up and I'm not a fan of needles or injections – I hardly ever if never I get headaches. Once in a while I get a toothache, but luckily that fades, so I haven't had to go to the dreaded dentist for years and years. Others aren't so lucky, my brother for instance always manages to injure himself no matter what sport he plays, but luckily nothing serious like a fractured arm or leg where he has to have it in plaster, but to injure himself in a way where he has to wear a sling is possible. We all have that one friend who is unlucky and might suffer from migraines and that friend who is usually wearing a plaster because they cut themselves while chopping something in the kitchen. Talking of cuts, if you cut yourself and it's a small cut, you don't need a plaster. You just run it under the tap to clean it and it will heal itself. If the cut is bigger it might need a bandage and if it is a deep cut it might need stitches which could leave a scar.

Note: Russian and Ukrainian speakers will often use the word trauma to describe injury. While they do mostly mean the same thing, the word trauma is used more in medical English.

Nowadays we live in a world where people are worried about their health and they are trying to do more to become healthier. Some go for a jog in the morning or cycle to work, it's not uncommon to see many joggers and cyclists in the park in the morning, but sadly one of them is not me. There are many health issues around the world like obesity in America and the UK which is caused by a lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. High pollution in China can often cause asthma and affect people's breathing. Often these people need to carry around an inhaler to help when they struggle to breathe. More and more people go to the gym to get into shape when they are out of shape - usually every January - or in reality to take selfies and upload them to Instagram. They like to show off their six-pack, perky bums, and how strong they are by showing us the weights they are using. Rarely do we see any gym pictures of people covered in sweat, messy hair, and sweat patches on their t-shirts.. the real story.

I'm sure you know the phrasal verb to work out (exercise). Well, we have a few other useful phrasal verbs which we often use when we talk about our health, lifestyle, and exercise habits. Below is some in context with the meaning at the end in brackets.

Phrasal Verbs

I need to cut down on the amount of fizzy drinks I drink. I drink a lot (reduce)

Right now I have a runny nose and think I am coming down with flu (becoming ill)

Last year I cut out coffee from my life and now I sleep much better (stop)

He goes to the gym 5 days a week to bulk up (increase your muscle size)

I can only stay in a sauna for 5 minutes. Any longer and I feel like I'm going to pass out (lose consciousness)

I'm sorry I can't come into work today, I don't feel up to it. I still have a headache (to not feel well enough to do something)

We also have some useful collocations. Look at them in English, translate them into your own language, and then say them again in English without changing anything.

Fitness collocations – words that go together

to join a gym

to do sit-ups/pull-ups/press-ups

to take medicine/ * Ukrainian/Russian students will often say EAT PILLS. You TAKE all forms of medicine.

to put on weight

go for a jog

to be a member of a gym

to cycle to work

to have crutches / a walking stick

to pull a muscle

to be on medication

to have a runny nose

to have a blocked up nose

to not feel up to doing something - great for cancelling plans ;)

to lose weight

to have a headache/toothache

And, lastly, let's test your knowledge of some useful medical words you might need one day when trying to explain what is wrong. See if you can guess the word by the below description of the problem.

Doctor, doctor I have......

I have a red patch on my skin.

You have a RASH

My hand is 'bigger' because I hit it against a wall

Your hand is SWOLLEN

I have a pain in my throat

You have a SORE THROAT

I have painful red skin because I spent all day in the sun

You have SUNBURN

I have a big blue shape on my skin after I fell over

You have a BRUISE

I have a line on my skin after my operation

You have a SCAR

Depending on how bad your problem is, your doctor might give you a prescription

And, one last question to think about before you go. Do people let themselves go after they get married? Think about it......


English native speaker and teacher in Lviv

Skype Lessons with a British native speaker from England


fit – to be at a good level of fitness

out of breath – when you breathe very heavily

unfit - to be at a low level of fitness

struggle – when something is not easy for you to do

aching – a light pain in an area of the body

to feel stiff – when your body is not mobile and harder to move

warm up – stretches before you exercise

warm down – stretches after your exercise

recover - for your body to go back to normal

check-up – a visit to the doctor for him to check your general health

needles - the sharp part of an injection which goes into your body

injection - used to inject something into the body

headache – pain in the head

toothache – a pain in the tooth

fades – when a pain slowly gets less and less painful until it is gone

injure / injury - when you hurt yourself doing something

fracture - the medical term for break. There are different types of fractures

in plaster – for broken bones. A hard 'case' around the limb on the outside of the body to protect it

wear a sling - like a belt for your arm to keep it in one position

migraines - regular headaches

a plaster - a little sticky thing that goes over a cut to help protect it

run it over the tap -to put a cut under water. Usually to clean and clear any blood

heal itself - without any help the problem fixes itself

bandage - protection for a wound which usually needs to be wrapped around the problem

stitches - sewing your skin together

scar - a mark left on your skin after an operation or bad cut obesity - a problem with very fat people

asthma - a condition which makes breathing difficult in different situations and environments

get into shape - to look and feel good

out of shape - to look and feel bad

six pack - six muscles on your stomach. The ultimate goal....

perky bums - round and good looking.... asses

weights - what the guy in the picture of this post is doing. He is lifting weights

sweat - the liquid that leaves your body through your skin after hard work

sweat patches - areas on your clothes that look wet

fizzy drinks - Cola and all those type of drinks

runny nose - when your nose becomes a rainy cloud

let yourself go - when you don't care so much about your shape or appearance any more

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