College Fitness Suggestions & Tips

Ways to Stay in Shape Anywhere

 

Cardio

INSIDE

  • Jump Rope – with just a little bit of room inside a dorm room or apartment a mighty sweat can happen with just a simple jump roping activity. Spice up the routine by adding music, the  try jumping to the beat.
  • Rock Climb – if there is a rock climbing gym nearby, go check it out! It is a great (and fun) way to get cardio in even during the cold winter months when outside is not an option.
  • Ice Skate – go find a rink and lace up some skates. This cardio workout is great for when it is too cold OR too hot outside.
OUTSIDE

  • Ditch the Car – rather than bring a car to college, plan on purchasing a bike, or walking everywhere. Walking a few miles to and from campus and to and from the grocery store is a great way to continue to get exercise in really easily.
  • Rollerblading – embrace the inner child and blade around town for a few hours; do the shopping while you are out and skate home with the groceries in hand or in a backpack.
  • Go Hiking – lookup some hikes and nature walks in the area, then grab a few friends to join you in a new adventure. Pack a healthy lunch and find a fun spot to stop and eat to make a day out of it.
  • Shoot Hoops – find a basketball and a hoop and start up a random game. Not only will you get some exercise in but you may meet some new friends.
ON CAMPUS

  • Campus Gyms – most college campuses have a gym that includes equipment like treadmills, elliptical machines, and even swimming pools. These are a great way to get a go-to workout in on days where you don’t have time to get creative.
  • Campus Classes – many college campuses also provide fitness classes with fun workouts like; zumba, spinning, yoga, etc. Try signing up for one you’ve never done before.
  • Intramural Athletic Teams – most colleges provide students the option to participate in intramural sports teams for those that enjoy friendly competition but are not currently on a collegiate sports team. These teams are a great way to enjoy exercise and meet new people.
  • Group Workouts – college students have been known to come together on campus to help motivate one another to workout on a regular basis. See what you can find at your school!
  • Campus Challenges – some colleges also put on a healthy/wellness challenge at different times of the year where they challenge their students to workout a few times a week. The challenge may be to do specific workouts, run so far in a month, or do a “lazy man iron man,” etc. Take on one of your school’s challenges!

 

Weight Training

INSIDE

  • Body Weight Exercises – in a dorm room it is really easy to do sets of jumping jacks, burpees, push ups, and more to get your muscles burning. A simple google search can give provide examples of circuits to do.
  • At Home Weights – fill up water bottles and milk jugs for different weight amounts to lift.
  • Lunge Cleaning – while cleaning the dorm/apartment, lunge from one room to the next, this will become both a weight training and cardio workout.
OUTSIDE

  • Body Weight Exercises – just like the indoor suggestion of body weight exercise, the same exercises can be done outside in the grass or at a park. Pair them with a few sprints and get a double whammy; cardio & weight training.
  • Park Equipment Workout – things like monkey bars are great for pull ups, stairs to a slide for stair runs, and even a grassy area for sprints are a great way to get a good workout in simply at the park.
ON CAMPUS

  • Campus Gym – campus gyms have a lot of equipment like; free weights, pull up machines, weight benches, and more that are fantastic for weight training workouts.

 

Stretching

INSIDE

  • Use Furniture to Stretch – throw your leg up on the dresser to give it a good stretch, use the wall to stretch out your shoulders, etc.
  • Yoga – put on a yoga DVD to get a good stretch through the entire body.
  • Follow a different stretch DVD – have a different stretching DVD or a stretch leader on YouTube to follow? Clear a space in your dorm/apartment and go for it!
  • Pilates – these can be done at a class around town, or inside by using a TV or laptop. They are a great way to both stretch and strengthen at the same time.
OUTSIDE

  • Meditation – find a meditation audio track to follow as you bask in the sun outside.
  • Use the Outdoors – use items like trees for your calves and shoulders, and curbs for an achilles stretch, to help get a full body stretch.
  • Tai Chi – there are oftentimes tai chi classes taught outside, but even if there are not, look up a few moves on youtube and take them to the park.
ON CAMPUS

  • Yoga Class – find a class on campus to do with other people and gain motivation to stretch more often.
  • Use Anything on Campus – if there are a few minutes between classes, use the walls of the hallway to stretch out your calves. Sit down in a butterfly stretch and get your muscles lengthened out.

 
 

Get in a Routine

 
Routines are important for ensuring that the fitness part of a day happens. Fitness requires more than just the few minutes it takes to accomplish it though; fitness needs good sleep, a good diet, and goals.

 

Sleep

Without sleep it is near impossible for the human body to continue a fitness routine. The body needs sleep to relax and rejuvenate for the next day’s work. There are a number of negative side effects that can happen to the body with a lack of sleep; including the following:

  • moodiness
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • colds & flus
  • memory problems
  • weight gain
  • impaired brain activity
  • and more

Help your body get into a good fitness routine and stay healthy by getting plenty of sleep each night.

 

Good Diet

A good diet helps fuel the body for the next fitness routine. High fat and sugar diets are hard on the body, and difficult to burn off on a regular basis. Meals high in fruits, vegetables, and protein are a great way to be healthy, and properly fuel the body for good workouts in the future.

 

Goals

Why do you want to be fit? What are you looking to accomplish? Be sure to write down and maintain a set of goals. These goals will help motivate the continuation of a routine until it becomes a habit. Don’t forget to provide  rewards a goal is met! Give yourself an extra incentive to get there; once you get there, take that reward, and then set a new goal and continue to become a better, more fit person.

When considering what goals to set for yourself, take a look at some of the habits healthy people have. It might be helpful to add one of these habits to your own list of goals:

  • Weekly Meal Plan
  • Properly Hydrate
  • Find Healthier Desserts
  • Start the Day with a Healthy Breakfast
  • Keep a Food & Fitness Journal (these are helpful in finding why you may be lacking energy one day, or struggling to stay happy on another)
  • Find Ways to Squeeze Workouts into a Busy Schedule
  • Find a Workout Partner
  • Focus on Exercising with Proper Form
  • Give Time to Recover from Workouts
  • Vary Your Exercise (don’t do the same thing every single day)
  • Go Hiking
  • Go Barefoot
  • Focus on Bettering Posture
  • Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
  • Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day
  • Prep for the Next Day Before Bed
  • Regulate and Reduce Stress
  • Watch Less TV
  • Exercise the Mind
  • Have a Morning Routine

 
 

Snack Alternatives

 

When You Want This…

Eat This Instead!

Banana Split Cut up banana and top it with sliced almonds, whipped cream, and caramel.
Tortilla Chips & Salsa Slice jicama into strips and dip them in salsa, you still get the crunch while making a healthier choice.

Bake your own chips instead of purchasing fried ones.

Potato Chips & Dip Baked pita bread dipped in hummus.

Try air popped popcorn with some salt or a drizzle of margarin.

Alternatives like olives and pickles can help curb the craving for salt.

French Fries Try baked sweet potato fries.

Have a cup of edamame sprinkled with sea salt.

Candy Grab a handful of chocolate trail mix. The chocolate pieces mixed in with the nuts will help curb the craving for candy.

Eat a protein bar instead; they still have a chocolatey taste but they also have protein and fiber that is good for the body.

Eat a small piece of ultra dark chocolate.

Ice Cream Try a sorbet or frozen yogurt instead.

To get even healthier, try throwing a cup of greek yogurt in the freezer at home and scooping it up with your spoon after it has hardened.

Mix together a berry protein shake; you’ll still get the smooth cool feeling, but it has fruits and protein instead of sugar and cream.

Blend frozen bananas together to get a similar consistency to ice cream. There are lots of “yonanas” recipes online to try.

Cake, Donuts, & Brownies Angel food cake is much lower in calories and fat than the average cake is, so if you’re looking for the texture and flavor of cake, choose angel food.

Whole wheat and bran muffins are a better choice than cake because of the nutrients in them; yes they have sugar, yes they have fat, but they have nutritious items too.

Cookies Fig bars are not exactly healthy for you, but, they have a better nutritional value, while still tasting sweet, than the typical chocolate chip cookie does.

Or substitute healthier alternatives into your cookie recipe; you can find recipes that use avocado, bananas, etc.

Bagel & Cream Cheese Top an English muffin with fruit and nut butter.
Cinnamon Roll Toast 2 slices of cinnamon raisin bread.
Fruit Juice Simply eat a piece of fruit.

If you want flavor instead of just drinking water, try water infused with lemons, lime, or berries.

Iceberg Lettuce Make salad using spinach instead; iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value, while spinach has plenty to bring to the table.
Popsicles Freeze different fruits rather than eating a popsicle with added sugar. A few good ones to try are; grapes, strawberries, peaches.
Cream Based Soup Swap these out for broth-based soups like minestrone, chicken noodle, and beef and barley.

 
 

Fitness Do’s and Don’ts

 

Use your regular tennis shoes for your workouts. Go to a fitness store and get properly fitted for shoes; especially if you are getting into running, cycling, or any one specific sport.
Get caught up in gimmicky foods & drinks. Things like gatorade, energy bars, gus, etc. are not items to use on a regular basis. These items are great for ultra rigorous workouts or days of competition. But they are high in calories for a reason, and can even be hard on your system if used too often.
Rely on the water fountain at the gym. Bring your own water bottle and take sips frequently throughout the entire workout. Being thirsty is actually a sign that the body is already dehydrated, avoid getting to that point.
Overweight your workout. Don’t lift more than you can handle. Be sure you can do at least a few reps with the weight you are using before continuing the workout. Too large of a load can cause injuries and set you back by a number of months.
Compare yourself to others. Write down your own goals and only worry about yourself. You never know the background story of others, so don’t worry about how you compare.
Skip breakfast to avoid calories. If you are working out you need a few calories to burn, it doesn’t have to be a huge breakfast, but even something little will give the body the metabolism wake-up call it needs.
Over work the body to get a “jump start” on fitness. It is important to have a routine and try to stick with it; but if you find on some days that your body is just too tired to handle life, it is okay to slow down that day. Rather than run, take a walk, instead of doing a full on weight lifting routine, you can just focus on abs. Listen to your body.
Do the same thing every day. Diversify your workout! Try new things, you may discover you love them. That aside, we also know it is important to do a variety of things to keep your muscles working hard and working different areas. Consider a routine of 2 or 3 different kinds of workouts each week.
Start a workout too fast. Ease into each workout by starting with some kind of warm up. Remember that muscles get tight throughout the day and night if they are not being used or stretched. Give the muscles a warm up period to avoid injury.
Wear tight clothing. It is important to be comfortable in your clothes and if the tighter clothing is that for you that is fine, just be sure it is not too tight as to restrict movement or blood flow in the body. Both of these items are important for all aspects of working out.
Push through the pain. Sometimes there is such a thing as “good pain,” but if the pain is unusual or very intense, listen to it, and stop. Don’t try to push through an injury hoping it will magically get better on its own. With injury the best thing to do is rest.