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Student Fitness: How to Get Moving in High School and College

Exercising could mean hitting the gym every few days or something entirely different to you! Here are some ways to get active in high school and college.

Everyone’s favorite topic: exercising.

Any article you read about health is going to say you should actually go to a gym or at least incorporate some exercise into your lifestyle. From helping you sleep better to relieving stress to improving memory (all important things when you’re a student), the benefits of exercising are undeniable.

Some people still hate the idea, but getting into some healthy habits now can be beneficial outside of just letting you run up a flight of stairs without getting winded. (I live for that day…) Joining intramural teams or going to yoga/dance/whatever classes can also lead to new friendships and will absolutely release endorphins that will help keep your energy up during stressful times (like waiting for college acceptances or during finals and midterms).

Please note, none of these options is for everyone. If something doesn’t float your boat, try something else!

An actual gym

High school: You don’t have to join some fancy-shmancy gym with personal trainers and hot towels and outrageous monthly rates. You can if you want to and have that kind of cash. But if you’re looking for a place to lift some weights or run on a treadmill a couple times a week, there are plenty of cheaper options for $10­–$20 a month. Also check out your local community center or neighborhood YMCA, as their rates can be lower than more corporate gyms. Additionally, some high schools have weight rooms available. Sometimes these are open to all students, sometimes they’re only open to students who play sports. Talk to a school administrator and see what options you have!

College: Many colleges have fully equipped fitness centers and the fees are typically included in your tuition (every school is different, so check beforehand). However, if your school doesn’t have one, they might have a deal with a local gym for you to get a substantially lower student rate. Take a look at your school website or talk to someone in the student life department for more details.

Group classes

Some gyms have group classes built into their membership fees, some charge extra, and some don’t offer them at all. If you end up at a gym with no group classes, or if they don’t offer the ones you’re interested in, check out what’s available around town. Some classes can be pretty pricey, but if you check websites like Groupon and MindBody, you can find some deals. Also, some companies will offer reduced rates for class passes periodically throughout the year (think holiday sales) that you can take advantage of. Or look out for places that offer student rates.

Related: 7 Apps to Help Balance Your Health in College

Team sports

High school: No, you don’t have to join your school’s team if you don’t want to. Often the costs that go along with being on a school sports team can be dissuading, it can be hard to break into school sports, or maybe you just don’t feel the need to compete so much. You can still look into community leagues for all the sports and one-off opportunities in your area. You can even grab your friends and make up your own team(s)!

College: Check to see what’s available for intramural and club sports if you’re not interested in joining your school’s varsity sports teams (or if, like me, your school doesn’t have any!). You can also see what’s available around town. Meetup is a great way to find local teams for pretty much any sport, and you can choose from teams with different levels of commitment, which is great for when you have finals and just can’t make it to bowling practice.

Related: The College Intramural Sports You Want to Play


This had to be in here somewhere, didn’t it? Lots of people LARP (Live Action Role Playing, in case you’ve never heard of it), and it’s gaining popularity. If it’s something you enjoy, see if there’s a club for it at your high school or college. If there isn’t, grab some friends who LARP and start a club of your own. If it’s what you like to do, you should do it because it’ll get that heart rate going, and that’s all that matters.

Gym at home

Sometimes physically going to the gym is a chore, especially if the only gym available to you is occupied by a niche group that you don’t feel you fit in with. (Like when all anyone does is run on the treadmill while you want to lift all the weights, or there’s a focus on group classes and you don’t like interacting with other people at the gym. Ever.) Or maybe your gym is on the other side of campus and it’s 100 degrees out or you’re buried in five feet of snow and it’s just not an option. You can still do a simple workout at home!

Related: Your Mini Dorm Workout

An easy way to get a quick and diverse workout in is to get popsicle sticks from your nearest craft store and write down different exercises, like 10 squats or a 20-second plank, on each one. Put them in a jar and mix them up. Randomly select a certain number each day and voilà! You have a workout tailored to your time constraints and abilities. 

Final advice

Putting exercise into your weekly or daily routine doesn’t mean you have to focus on weight loss. (In fact, recent studies say you shouldn’t.) It just means you’re looking to live a healthy life, maybe sleep a little better, and have a good outlet for when things get a little stressful, as they usually do for high school and college students.

What’s your favorite way to get up and moving? Let us know in the comments! 

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exercise fitness gyms health healthy living lifestyle mental health stress management stress relief student health

About Kara E. Joyce

Kara E. Joyce is an editor and writer who frequently contributes to CollegeXpress. When she isn’t hunched over editing material, you can find her powerlifting in the gym, pirouetting in a dance studio, or planning her next adventure.


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