Staying fit when you go away to college can pose a challenge. Between classes, studying, social events, and sharing a small room in the dormitories, how do you make the time and space for exercise? The first step is to have a plan. Incorporating gym time into your routine is very important for both your physical and mental health. College involves a lot of emotional, psychological, and physical stress, especially for freshmen, and incorporating 45 minutes to an hour of gym time into your daily life is important for maintaining some balance.
Most colleges have gyms, so if yours does, take advantage of it. Don’t spend all of your time on the treadmill, stationary bike or in the weight room though. You never want to do center on just one aspect of fitness all the time. You want to incorporate strength training, cardio, and stretching/flexibility into each workout. Over time you can increase speed, agility, and number of repetitions to improve your endurance. You need a stable base when you’re spending hours sitting in classrooms and libraries, so make sure to incorporate some stability and core exercises like front or side planks, sit-ups, bridges, and push-ups. Coincidentally, those are all exercises that require very little space, so you can do them in your dorm room too. Get a yoga mat for your room so that you can get a quick workout in when you can’t get to the gym. Do walking lunges or squats in your dorm hallway, or get a pull-up bar that you can put in your doorframe.
Exercise can also be a great way to make new friends and stay social. Find out what kind of running, yoga, Pilates, or other fitness clubs are available to explore at your school. Don?t stop playing a sport that you really enjoy just because you didn’t go to college for it. Sports like basketball, baseball, and volleyball are often offered as intramurals on college campuses.
The little things you do on a day-to-day basis matter too. Walk to class instead of taking the bus, even if your class is on the other side of the campus. Factor the extra time into your plans so that you don’t get tempted to skip it. Don’t let your busy schedule become an excuse-remember that doing 10-15 minutes of exercise is better than nothing. The important thing is to stay active both physically and mentally.
Gregory Reinhardt is a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Department. He holds a Master’s degree in physical therapy from UConn and is certified with the United States Golf Teachers Federation-Level II.