Two White women doing dumbbell lunges in dorm along with a fitness video

How to Set Up an Effective Exercise Routine Living in a Dorm

Looking for an effective daily exercise routine that's easy to keep up with? We've got some ideas for you, including equipment you can buy for your dorm.

As a college student, it can be tough to maintain a regular exercise routine when you're juggling classes, assignments, and extracurricular activities. However, with a few simple tips and tricks, it's possible to create an effective routine that lets you keep active right in your dorm room. Here are some easy steps to get started, plus equipment options you can hide away in a small space.

Setting your workout routine

First, it's important to find the right type of exercise that works for you. Some students prefer yoga, while others prefer more high-intensity workouts like cardio or strength training. Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure it's something you enjoy and look forward to doing.

Once you've found the type of exercise you like, scheduling it into your daily routine is essential. This could mean setting aside a specific time each day to exercise or making simple day-to-day swaps such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk during your break between classes. Sticking to a workout routine is much easier when you embed it into your regular schedule.

Be realistic and gentle with yourself

When setting up your exercise routine, it's also important to be realistic. If you're new to working out, start with small, achievable goals, such as exercising for 20–30 minutes a few times a week. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the amount, duration, and intensity of your workouts. It's also important to prioritize rest and recovery. Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night and allow yourself time to recharge. This could mean taking a day off from exercise each week or incorporating active recovery such as yoga or stretching. Additionally, autoregulation exercises like deep breathing and meditation can help you manage your stress levels and improve your emotional and mental health. Pay attention to your body's distress signals and adjust your routine accordingly. If you're feeling physically or mentally stressed, it might be time to change your routine or seek support from friends, family, or resources on campus.

Get creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your workouts! There are a variety of exercises that can be done in small spaces like dorms. For example, bodyweight exercises such as lunges, push-ups, and squats can be done without any equipment. There are also many online workout classes and resources available if you want to follow along a set routine.

Related: Your Mini Dorm Room Workout

Choosing exercise equipment for your dorm

When exercising in a dorm room, it's important to consider space limitations and noise restrictions. Here are a few equipment options that are compact, versatile, and suitable for a dorm setting:

  • Resistance bands: Resistance bands are lightweight, portable, and incredibly versatile. They come in various resistance difficulties, allowing you to customize your workouts. You can use resistance bands for strength training exercises targeting different muscle groups, such as bicep curls, squats, or lateral leg raises. They can also be used for stretching and mobility exercises.
  • Adjustable dumbbells: Opt for a set of dumbbells that can be built and dissembled for easy storage. These allow you to adjust the weight according to your preference for exercises such as dumbbell presses, lunges, and rows. With adjustable dumbbells, you can effectively target multiple muscle groups without needing a full rack of weights.
  • Yoga mat: A yoga mat is a piece of equipment that provides cushioning and support for various exercises, including yoga, Pilates, and bodyweight workouts. It can also be a comfortable surface for stretching or core workouts. A yoga mat is lightweight and easy to store rolled up when not in use.
  • Jump rope: Jumping rope is a fantastic cardio exercise that requires minimal space. It's an effective way to increase your heart rate, burn calories, and improve coordination. Look for an adjustable jump rope with a lightweight design.
  • Stability ball: Also known as an exercise ball or Swiss ball, a stability ball can be used for many exercises that engage your core muscles and improve balance and stability, including ball squats, planks, or back extensions. It can also replace a traditional desk chair, allowing you to engage your core muscles while sitting.

Remember, it's essential to follow any guidelines or rules set by your college regarding exercise equipment usage and noise levels in dorms. And always ensure the equipment you choose is safe, appropriate for your fitness level, and used with proper form.

Related: Working Out Your Mental Health: 3 Benefits of Regular Exercise for Students

Developing a routine that works for you is critical to achieving peak mental and physical health as a student. By prioritizing regular exercise, healthy eating, and social activities—plus listening to your body's needs—you can maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle that supports the demands of college.

Get more advice on balancing responsibilities, staying healthy, and living it up on campus in our Student Life section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Kelly Koeppel

Kelly Koeppel is an author, editor, and digital marketing specialist. She has written for numerous national web publications on the topics of mental health and aging.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.

Lorena Bacallao

Lorena Bacallao

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress was the foundation of my college search process. Because of CollegeXpress, I was able to make a more informed and confident decision as to where it was best to pursue my higher education. I have recommended this website to fellow peers and for first-generation students like me. It’s a website I will continue to promote because of how simple it was to use and how many opportunities were offered to me at my fingertips!

Jeannie Borin, MEd

Jeannie Borin, MEd

President and Founder, College Connections

I frequently visit CollegeXpress to answer questions from students and parents. There are countless hot topics in admissions that need to be addressed. I enjoy reading what my colleagues post and gain additional insight from different perspectives.

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2020

CollegeXpress has been an instrumental resource for my scholarship search and has given me the opportunity to try my best so I can graduate from college debt-free.



High School Class of 2021

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

High Point University

High Point, NC