9 Easy Exercises to Defeat the Freshman 15
There’s no reason that the notorious “Freshman 15″ should affect you as you begin your college experience. As long as you stay active, should be safe from any unexpected weight gain, and you can stay active as long as you keep up a few effective exercises. Effective exercises aren’t necessarily about burning a ton of calories in a short period of time or about getting buff overnight. These exercises provide a baseline by which you can keep your body physically fit, but they’re designed for scaling up should you ever want to push yourself and develop more muscle mass or physical endurance.
Here are nine exercises that you can fit into your busy school schedule to secure your physical fitness.
Pushups are one of the most basic forms of exercise, requiring nothing but a mat and some upper body strength. Pushups work great for building up the muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, and your core. They require little time to complete, and you can push yourself to do more and more of them over a relatively short amount of time. Just be sure to keep proper posture when you do your pushups because while they’re easy to do, they’re also easy to mess up.
Planking is a close relative to the pushup, and it focuses on similar systems of muscles in your body, but with a special emphasis on your core and abdominal area. Not to be confused with the recently popular prank immortalized on the Web, the planking exercise is done by lifting up from the pushup position and holding yourself in place by your toes and elbows. You stay in this position for as long as possible, building endurance in target muscles.
Biking is one the best forms of exercise for a college student because it conflates working out with practical transportation. Biking is ideal if you live in a relatively bike-friendly college town with bike lanes and smaller roads, but you can also make due in less hospitable environments. Biking is a great form of cardio exercise, and it works out your legs better than nearly any other workout. Of course, if you don’t already have a bike, you might want to take an honest look at your financials before purchasing one as they can get quite pricey.
Jogging is an exercise with perhaps the smallest learning curve of them all. You only need to secure a good pair of running shoes and a reliable jogging path or track (either of which should exist in any college town) to start, and then you’re on your way. Jogging is great exercise for your legs and your heart, and it’s the perfect exercise to warm you up before tackling anything else on your workout schedule. It’s also a great workout for measuring your progress, as you can easily track the distance, time, and speed of your jog with a watch or a free app on a smartphone.
5. Lifting free weights
You don’t need gym member access to fancy weight lifting machines to build a little muscle; in fact, you can do many weight lifting exercises from the comfort of your dorm or apartment. A little investment in a few free weights (as in weights without any constraints, like dumbbells or hand weights) is all it takes to get started on your own lifting program. When you’re looking for free weights, it’s best to underestimate the amount of weight you can lift before you start working out or else you might hurt yourself and get discouraged from working out again.
6. Interval workouts
Interval workouts are short, but intense, workouts that can focus on any group of muscles. An interval workout essential calls for you to work out some part of your body for a short period of time, say 2 to 3 minutes, of constant strain and effort followed by an equal period of rest. The idea is that these interval workouts will work the same systems in your body as would a traditional longer workout; interval workouts will make you complete a traditional exercise faster and more intensely. Shorter workouts with the same payoff — who could ask for more?
7. Jumping rope
You might not have done it since P.E. class in grade school, but jumping rope is actually a great way to break a sweat and burn some calories. It requires little investment (most jump ropes cost next to nothing) and doesn’t require a special venue because you can jump rope just about anywhere. It’s a great alternative cardio exercise for people who hate jogging, as you can burn just as many calories with a dedicated jump rope exercise.
Swimming may be the most logistically difficult exercise of those on this list, but that shouldn’t discourage you from seeking out a nearby pool. Most college gyms house at least one pool for swimming, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one nearby. A focused swim with proper technique works out just about every muscle in your body, which means that you get to address muscles that you normally wouldn’t work on with most conventional exercises. Also, as the only exercise that isn’t land-based, swimming will come as a refreshing change from any other work out that you’ve done lately.
It might seem obvious, but walking is one of the most important forms of exercise that you can perform. If you live in a relatively small college town, there’s no reason not to implement regular bouts of walking in lieu of driving a car or taking public transit just so you can give your legs some needed exercise. If you find yourself idle for too long, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t step outside to take a nice, long walk. It might not burn many calories, but it’ll give you more exercise than sitting around all day.