It’s a new year and one of the most popular new year's resolutions on everyone’s list is the popular, “Become healthier and get back into shape.” Like all resolutions, this common goal is easier said than done, especially for busy students… or lazy ones, myself included. It's admirable to resolve to hit the gym five times per week, however, goals like this can be overly-ambitious, especially if you haven't worked out in a while, and can set you up for failure.
Instead, it's better to start off by aiming to do something small in which the exercise itself is almost secondary. The most important thing is to use your body in every way you can, if I may quote Baz Luhrmann. This way, you can at least get yourself moving as you work your way up to a fuller workout routine, if that's where you want to end up.
So, with that spirit in mind, here are some simple, easy, and FUN ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, sans gym membership.
1. Take a longer route to class, work, the store, etc.
I know this is a tip that we've all seen before, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually tried this. So for 2011, why not think up a different way to get to class that would incorporate an extra two minutes of walking? While it might seem like you can't spare two seconds right now, making a little extra time for your health can make a big difference.
Also, I know that many of you are living in states that are absolutely freezing right now, but what harm can an extra block do when you’re already cold anyway? Think of it an excuse to wear your cute winter jacket, scarf, and gloves just a few moments longer before you’re back inside your wonderfully warm apartment.
2. Try biking for a change.
Although I may be biased towards this form of transportation after spending a semester abroad in Amsterdam, this simpler way of getting around stole my heart (and helped keep me fit) while I was living on gouda and pasta and muttering half-phrases in Dutch.
Of course, biking can be hazardous when you're living up north due to the elements, but if your campus/town is relatively clear of snow and ice, why not give it a try? Plus, for shorter distance trips that require hauling items back and forth, you can certainly take your bike and save money on public transit or help decrease your carbon footprint.
3. Run up and down stairs.
You probably think I’m crazy for suggesting this, but I swear to you, this totally works and can be a really intense workout.
Let's say you’re really stressed out at midnight, the gym is closed, and you need to relieve your tension somehow. Well, there’s always that one stairwell in your dorm or apartment building that never gets any traffic - take a twenty minute break and run up and down those stairs as fast as you can. You’ll get the intense endorphin rush afterward that will help calm you down. Plus, you don't have to change into workout attire and trek to the gym in order to do so!
4. Play video games.
I don’t know about you guys but I love playing video games, especially when I’m away at college and want to procrastinate. It’s a really fun way of relieving stress and a great social activity that few truly outgrow. And with the introduction of Nintendo’s infamous Wii console, you can have fun playing games while you get in shape.
So bring back your Wii from home or ask one of your friends if you don’t know someone with a Wii at school already, then find yourself a copy of Wii Fit Plus, with the Wii balance board and get going! Though I don’t advocate playing video games over writing that pesky term paper due tomorrow, having a fun way to relax, get active, and be with friends is one of the best ways to get your body moving in the right direction.
5. Incorporate weight training while watching your favorite shows.
You’re already sitting down watching a new episode of Mad Men or Glee - why not multitask and turn this into a mini workout session? Buy a couple free weights and work out your biceps and triceps every Monday at 7/8 pm CST while you find out, once again, that it’s not lupus.
6. Just dance!
This is by far my favorite fun, stress relieving activity that also ends up becoming a pretty rigorous workout in the process. It’s self-explanatory but you really can never do it enough. Whether you’re in your undies in your room or taking a break from your study session with your friends in the common room, just put on some Rihanna and boogie the night away!
What do you think?
How do you guys get yourself moving in unconventional, yet convenient ways? Do you guys already do some of these? Which is your favorite? Which one are you trying first? Drop me a comment and let me know!