It’s getting closer to summer, but that doesn’t mean the semester is slowing down. If anything, life speeds up as tests, projects, and papers pile up for the last hurrah of the school year. The thought of adding exercise into the mix may sound absurd. After all, wouldn’t exercise just take away from all the other things you need to be doing? As counterintuitive as it may sound, staying active even with a crazy schedule can actually save you time. Investing 30 minutes a day into moving your body can have some major benefits, from improved concentration and mental health to better quality sleep and a stronger immune system. Being active is the perfect habit to prioritize. Here are a few tips for incorporating more physical activity into your busy schedule.
1. Get in some extra steps
One of the easiest ways to add physical activity to your schedule is by walking more. Think about it: It doesn’t require special clothing, equipment, or locations. Therefore, it can be incorporated anywhere. Have an extra few minutes between classes? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. What about getting to an event a few minutes early? Take a walk. Pulling into a parking spot at the grocery store? Park a bit farther away for the extra steps. Research has proven over and over that walking is beneficial to our bodies, particularly when it breaks up long periods of sitting. While you’ll still want to shoot for more exertive exercise as well, this is a great start for clearing your mind and being more active even during a hectic day.
2. Incorporate activity into your social life
Even during the most hectic weeks, you still probably have plans with friends. While grabbing a meal, visiting a coffee shop, or having a movie night are easy go-to activities, consider suggesting a move active hangout. This can be as easy as taking a walk in the beautiful spring weather with a friend to catch up! You could also take up a new active hobby. Learning how to do something new together helps you develop memories with friends you’ll never forget. Try pickleball, disc golf, hiking, rock climbing, or dance classes—the possibilities are endless! Most colleges offer intramural programs for those who want to participate in organized sports for fun. By incorporating more movement into the time you’re already setting aside to socialize, you’ll get to spice up your everyday activities while also spending time with your besties.
3. Turn your study breaks into exercise
Exercise is great for clearing the mind. But as you know, it’s often hard to find the time. One of the best ways to incorporate a new habit into your life is to merge it with a habit you already have or existing responsibilities. If you’re spending hours studying, chances are you’re already taking periodic breaks. If we’re being honest, most of us spend those breaks scrolling on social media or doing nothing at all. So start getting active during your study breaks instead! Even if your breaks are only five or 10 minutes, it will add up and leave you feeling refreshed for another round of studying.
The options for a study break workout are endless. On the basic end, you can take a swift walk around the room or do some dynamic stretches. For a slightly more intense workout, try turning on some fun music and taking a dance break to get yourself out of breath. You may even want to check out some guided workouts; there are numerous apps designed to help you get in some full body movements in a short period of time.
4. Sign up for a workout class
While adding another commitment to your schedule may seem counterproductive when you’re already busy, it could be the best way to hold yourself accountable. For some of us, if something is on the calendar, it will get done—especially if there’s a fee involved. You may not commit to working out at home, but you may be less likely to skip a formalized workout class. Plus, you’ll have a certified teacher to make sure you’re using good form who can also provide specific tips for you. If you’re interested in taking a workout class, check out what your campus offers as well as local YMCA branches and workout studios. Grab a friend and take a sweat break!
Although making time to stay active can be challenging with a busy student schedule, it’s worth it for so many reasons! Take steps to prioritize your physical activity and you’ll start reaping the benefits in no time.
If you’re looking for more advice on maintaining a healthy life balance, check out real student advice with these Top Tips for Juggling Schoolwork, Exercise, and Activities.