Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016
As I get ready for college this fall, I’ve already begun to consider how I’ll stay in shape and fend off the infamous “freshman 15.” However, exercising isn’t just about looking strong and healthy; it’s more about the clear mind and improved mood it provides a busy student. After a little research and a look at my own workout habits, I’ve come up with 10 ways you can stay in shape as a busy college student!
I’ve developed a habit of exercising while studying; it’s a great way to squeeze in a workout without feeling like you’re wasting time. Try doing class readings while cranking out some low-impact cardio like the elliptical or stationary bike. I also love studying Quizlet terms while on the treadmill, and you can always listen to review videos while lifting weights or doing bodyweight workouts. And not only does exercising while studying keep you in shape—it can help you remember what you’re studying! According to The New York Times, low-impact workouts done while studying can help your brain absorb all the new information.
2. Walk as much as possible
If you have a car on campus, don’t complain about bad parking spots—view it as an opportunity to get a few of your 10,000 steps in! If you don’t have a car, try forgoing the shuttle for your own two feet and consider going for a walk to chat with a friend instead of sitting in your dorm room.
3. Grab a salad
I’m not suggesting giving up those deliciouss cafeteria fries or comforting pizza slices completely, but try to get your fruits and vegetables in. (Pile of broccoli + pile of mac and cheese = YAASSSS.) Fresh greens and their counterparts keep you feeling good and have been proven to boost your mood and energy levels. As a frazzled college student, what could be better?!
4. Watch workout videos
Convince a roommate or friend to do a good old-fashioned workout video with you. I’ve found dozens of fun ones online that get your heart racing and can easily be done in a dorm room or common room. Ask around and recruit some people to do jumping jacks and squats to bad background music! It really is fun, I promise. Not to mention it’s a great study break activity.
5. Play intramural sports
Not a huge fan of the gym? That’s totally fine! Intramural sports on campus are a great way to get in a workout while having fun with friends. Most colleges have tons of different intramural sports to choose from, be it Quidditch, basketball, bowling, or Ultimate Frisbee. Whatever your interests, there’ll most likely be an intramural team for you to join!
6. Go to workout classes
If your college has a fitness center, chances are it’ll have fitness classes too. If you’re someone who needs accountability to get to the gym, classes are for you! Depending on what your college covers, the classes might cost money (often not much, though), but they will help you stay motivated by working out at the same time with the same people. Try recruiting a few friends to do some yoga or Zumba with you—it could be a blast!
7. Consider a sporty elective
If you’re already paying a flat tuition rate, why not squeeze in another credit with a physical fitness or outdoor adventure class (weirder classes have happened!)? A class that contributes to your GPA could be even more motivating than a fitness center class, while providing the benefits of a clearer mind, healthier body, and better mood.
8. Listen to your mother
“Time for bed!” “Don’t forget to eat breakfast!” “Lay off the sweets!” Going off to college means ignoring Mom’s advice, right? Not so fast. Sleep is essential to your mental health, metabolism, and energy levels. Breakfast will give you the boost you need to tackle the day and maintain your energy level. And you really don’t need to finish that pint of ice cream—even though there’s no one to stop you and it tastes wicked good. Okay, maybe just one more bite…
9. Snack smart
I know, I know, late-night Cheetos have a certain appeal when you’re cramming for a big test and hungry for quick, crunchy, comforting food, but consider opting for healthy snacks instead. Choices like raw almonds or carrots won’t make you tired like junk food does, and they’ll provide you with nutrients you need.
10. Remember: every little bit counts
No matter how busy you may be, you probably have 15 minutes to do a few sprints, squats, or (modified) pushups. Ditch the distractions during your busiest times and you’ll find a few minutes to exercise—this mini dorm room workout, perhaps? Even if you’ve only got a few minutes to get moving, it’s much better than nothing!