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The Ultimate Guide to Staying Active in College

Being in college brings on a whole new set of responsibilities as well as challenges. From late-night study sessions to dealing with interpersonal relationships with new roommates and new relationships, there is a magnitude of new experiences to contend with. And that is before papers, finding time for a part-time job, and joining clubs or on-campus groups… There are a lot of things vying for your time and attention as a college student.

Staying active and healthy is often a struggle to keep on the calendar, and can be one of the first things to be pushed to the side with the very common, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, which can then become a repeating pattern and consistently pushed off your to-do list.

Fitting in minimum activity and movement consistently is key to keeping off the dreaded “Freshman 15”. If you fall into lazy habits, the weight gain often doesn’t stop after the first year. It can be the beginning of a life-long continuing battle with weight and maintaining your health and flexibility. The key to avoiding weight gain is to remain active and find ways to make staying active an fun and routine habit that will keep you happy and healthy throughout your college career.

Explore the following guide to find tips and tricks on how to stay active, and fun ways to do so! 

Free Activities

Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers are apps on your phone or fitness watch that track your physical activity everyday. Some apps can create a fitness competition where you can compete against your friends to see who is the most physically active during the day. The settings can be adjusted to your fitness level and competitive nature. Apple’s Apple Watch is an example of a tracker you can use to compete with friends. 

Biking

Whether taking a ride around campus or hitting the mountain trails on a mountain bike, biking is an excellent exercise to keep you in shape. It can also get you to your destination faster than walking and can be used as a mode of transportation if you have no access to a vehicle on campus. Mountain bikes can often be rented by the hour or the day to go out and check out different trails.

Walking 

Whether choosing a parking spot in the back of the parking lot and getting in some extra steps, taking a stroll around campus, or finding a park to walk around and take in a little quiet time and nature, walking is one of the easiest ways to stay active. 

Local Track

Search to see if there is a track on campus or a nearby high school. Walking around the track can be less impactful on your feet and knees as there is some cushion in the track material, and can be a safer location with other people around vs. other destinations. Walk, jog, or run as you go around and around the track, either marking each lap completed or using a fitness tracker on your phone to gauge the distance you have traveled. 

Hiking 

Like walking, hiking can be a wonderful way to strap on your hiking boots (or tennis shoes) and get out into nature. Apps like alltrails.com can help you find the perfect trail for your skill level and the length of time the hike will take. Schedule a hike with friends or as a meetup to make new friends! 

Geocaching 

Try something different!  Geocaching is described as real-world treasure hunting, tracking GPS coordinates to find a hidden container called geocaches, where you can sign the logbook and if you are lucky, a small treasure that has been left behind! It is customary to leave something of equal or greater value if you take a treasure, so come prepared with an interesting treasure to share. 

Pokémon Go

Nintendo and Niantic teamed up and created the Pokémon Go app, which is an augmented reality game to play at parks and locations around your city. It encourages people to go out and get additional activities and steps in their day while making it fun and interactive.

Check Out Your Local Park

Don’t forget what most used to do for physical activity, and that was head to the park to see what kind of fun we could find. Perhaps find a pickup game at the basketball court or baseball field, toss a frisbee with friends, run around with your dog, or even lounge in the grass to get fresh air and a few minutes of downtime.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, combine exercise, dramatic flair, and let your nerdy side out, and find others to LARP (live-action role-playing), where you can dress up like the characters you are playing and interact with others as they play their roles.  

Fun Ways to Stay Fit

Gym 

Most campuses offer access to the rec center or gym for free. Be sure to check the offerings at your college. Rec centers can offer anything from weight equipment, to classes like Zumba, yoga, aerobics, water aerobics, massage therapy options, personal training, basketball or racquetball courts, etc.

Also check out other gym options near you such as Planet Fitness which offers low monthly rates, with the option to cancel at any time, per membership terms and conditions.

And, if you live at Vintage at Tabernacle, enjoy our swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center!

Online Fitness Trainer

Many online fitness trainers offer a free introductory period to ensure the exercises and trainers are a match for you. The trainers create workout and nutrition plans best fit to your needs and goals. You can do the exercises at your local gym or in the privacy of your home and at the time that works best for you and your schedule.

Yoga / Hot Yoga

Yoga can help you become more flexible while encouraging stretching through its many exercises and can help you become more grounded and centered. Finding an instructor that you like can make all the difference!

If there is a Hot Yoga in your area, check out this unique yoga option, combining sauna-like temperatures and the standard yoga practices.

Group fitness

Sometimes working out by yourself is not motivational enough. Especially if you were on a sports team in High School and you are no longer involved in sports. Group fitness, either at the gym or a group that gets together at a park with a trainer leading can make working out and exercise a fun and social event. Using your bodyweight exercises like sit-ups, pushups, and burpees, group fitness can be adjusted to any fitness level. You’ll feel much more motivated working out around peers who have similar fitness goals.

Zumba

A fitness dance class that can be described as Latin-inspired dancing mixed with cardio. A great option for those who love dancing versus a standard gym workout. Zumba is a super fun way to burn calories and get your sweat on, all while having fun dancing with friends! 

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics is done in the water using resistance training and is a favorite for those with joint pain or low flexibility. Water Aerobics is often associated as a class for the elderly, but it is beneficial for all ages and fitness levels. Stretching in the water after a hard workout can also be a great way to recover your muscles. 

Stretching

Like yoga, stretching can be a valuable way to stay in shape and make sure the body stays functional. 

A simple stretch routine can have many benefits and may save you from future injury:

-Increases range of motion in the joints 

-Improves blood circulation 

-Alleviates muscular tension 

-Improves overall posture 

-Reduces the risk of injury 

-Enhances performance 

-Decreases Stress

CrossFit 

CrossFit has become very popular and is described as “A branded fitness regimen that involves constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity”. There is a set “Workout of the day” that all participants do, and it is scaled to their fitness level so can be completed by anyone at any fitness level. Crossfit training is a bit more expensive than your average gym class, but the results are totally worth it. 

YouTube

Similar to the online fitness trainer, apps online can show you how to do certain workouts or exercises and you can learn just about anything on YouTube, including how to lift weights, dance classes or routines, and even yoga for all shapes and sizes. Youtube is an awesome place to find all different types of workouts, at all different lengths. If you only have 20 minutes in between classes to workout, type in “20 min HIIT workout”, and you’ll find a variety of fun options. 

Here’s an example to get you started: 

20 Minute Full Body Cardio HIIT Workout [NO REPEAT]

Tips and Tricks

  • Make working out fun, you’ll be more likely to show up and get moving. 
  • Park at the back of a parking lot and get in extra steps.
  • Take the stairs vs. the elevator or escalator for some extra cardio.
  • Join a sports team, whether tennis, softball, baseball, pickleball, basketball, swimming, etc.
  • Put your workouts on your calendar and schedule them like a class, so it is planned into your day and harder to avoid.
  • Get a group together or grab a friend to participate in any of the activities mentioned above.
  • Gather peer support, having a support system or even finding people who have the same goals as you can keep you on track to getting fit! 

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