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What is «Vær god mot deg selv»?

It’s a website with lots of research based tips and advice intended to give you a slightly better every day life during the pandemic.

In Autumn 2020, the University of Bergen initiated the project to help students and young people get through a challenging period. Covid-19 has affected our everyday life. We socialize less. We are not getting to know new people, we are homesick or bothered with «corona shame,» and struggle with feelings of missing out on the best of student life. This may have both physical and psychological consequences, and some even give up on their studies. The benefit of being a big university is that it encompasses enormous amounts of knowledge on how to master everyday life in all its facets. That’s why all the tips and advice are rooted in research and science originating from UiB itself.

Do you have any good tips on how to improve every day life during the pandemic?

Safe exercise

Exercising at home is extremely important, regardless of your fitness level.

When it comes to exercise, five minutes are always better than none.


The short winter days and poor weather don’t exactly inspire us to get out and about – and, as if that wasn’t enough, the gyms are also closed. Yet now that exams are looming, the stress-relieving effects of exercise are more important than ever. So, what can you do? Well, you can exercise – at home.

“Doing a few quick exercises at home is like brushing your teeth, but for your body. Exercise is important because it increases cognitive function, strengthens the gut, and boosts metabolism, while at the same time increasing your energy and alertness,” explains Kjartan Fersum

“Like everyone else, students’ exercise regimes vary. Some exercise daily, while others are more or less ambivalent about physical activity.” For Fersum, it’s important to emphasize that all activity counts.

“If you don’t enjoy exercise, you can always put on your favourite song and move your body to music for five minutes. Not everyone has the kind of relationship with exercise that spurs them on to do squats and press-ups, and that’s fine,” adds Fersum.

Getting started

“Research suggests that it may be a good idea to tie activity in with an existing habit. Do you have a morning ritual that involves putting on the coffee, for example? Then you can always do a few simple exercises while you wait for it to brew,” says Fersum. He has made a habit of making room for five-minute workouts at the office. Squats, calf raises,

lunges and jogging on the spot are all exercises that you can do without having to change clothes or use equipment. The Sammen website also offers a wide range of exercise videos for home use.

“When it comes to exercise, five minutes is always better than none. If you do five minutes of relatively high intensity training every day, then you’re doing well,” says Fersum.

“If you then also get one 30-minute session in once a week, then you’ve actually done enough.”

Hard training in your dorm room

Those who miss the gyms the most are obviously the students used to training hard and often. This group can also get as many benefits from training at home, even without access to machines or weights.

“If you complete a 30-minute program using your own body weight three times a week, there is nothing to indicate that you will lose your fitness. But you need to reach a certain level of intensity and muscle activation,” says Fersum.

“If you do burpees for a minute, for example, I promise that you’ll find it quite tiring. People think it’s impossible to train hard at home, but that’s nonsense. You just need to be creative,” he continues. A rolled-up towel and a door is all you need to do pull-ups. A backpack stuffed with something heavy adds resistance to your lunges. Gym machines are useful, but not vital.

“It’s almost unbelievable how hard you can train if you put your mind to it.”

Counteract sitting still

“What people tend to forget is that we often walk five to seven thousand steps every day doing normal tasks and activities. But when confronted with coronavirus restrictions, they disappear. Therefore, it’s important to try to compensate in one way or another,” says Fersum. When you have to make up for the loss of everyday activity, you can go for a walk, use a skipping rope, do squats or dance on your own, for example. It doesn’t take much to counteract the adverse effects of sitting still over time. For Fersum, it’s also important to point out that, in these times, exercise can be a welcome break from a monotonous everyday life full of restrictions.

“When you expose your body to physical exercise, it has less time to worry,” says Fersum.

“Which is why there is definitely an element of mindfulness in exercise.”


Kjartan Fersum

Associate Professor at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care


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