We get it. As busy college students, life is filled with travel, job applications, internships, classes, socialization, and so much more. Sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in time to make a bagel and grab a coffee in the morning, never mind get a workout in! But don’t worry, here are some essential workouts you can do anywhere—in a hotel room, elevator, car, or even in a cramped airplane bathroom.
Want to go to the gym and can’t because there’s a nagging assignment due tomorrow, but you can’t sit still anymore? Even though dorms and small apartments are cramped, you can still get in a workout that kills stress and helps you focus. As Elle Woods says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t tear their hair out over their paper at three a.m. in a blind, desperate panic,” or something to that effect.
To Relax: Try some gentle yoga moves. Lay a mat or blanket out on your floor and try some poses for 10 minutes, taking deep, slow breaths through your nose and holding poses for at least 5 breaths. The best poses for stress are cat and cow, downward facing dog, bridge, eagle, and legs-up-the-wall pose. Always end in a gentle corpse pose. If you need to, play slow music and don’t care what your neighbors think about you.
To Focus: Get up and move! Play some fast, upbeat music. For example, try anything by Wham! or check out Kanye West’s New Workout Plan. Dance around your room like no one’s watching for as long as you can. If dancing isn’t your thing, do a set of ladders (10 jumping jacks, 10 pushups, 10 situps, and then get up and do 9 sets, then 8, until you reach zero). Finally, if you can’t do any of that, run up and down the stairs (Lawrinson Hall residents, you got this).
Here is a link for a 30-minute yoga workout you can do in your dorm room!
Have a long, boring, daily commute but still want to get fit? Just make sure you’re not all sweaty before walking into work. Put that waterproof makeup and expensive deodorant you bought to good use.
Belly Toning: While in the car, suck in your stomach like you’re trying to zip up the skinniest jeans you’ve ever bought (like your old high school pants). Pull your belly button to your spine and engage your abs, breathing out quickly. Pulse your abs as you breathe in and out. Repeat for 20 times.
Spine Stretching: If you’re stuck in traffic, put your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Round your back. By pulling on the wheel and rounding your back, you engage the muscles between your shoulder blades. Take a breath and release.
Tension Tackling: At a red light, tilt your right ear to your right shoulder. Relax your shoulders, and breathe into the left side of your neck. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat on the other side at the next red light.
In an Airplane
Sometimes, airplanes can be scary and overwhelming. Most likely, you’re leaving people you love, and spending hours upon hours squished next to strangers while you get zero sleep. Aside from drinking water to keep yourself hydrated in the dry cabin air, here’s another trick to try.
In the bathroom: It’s a little rude to start doing jumping jacks or yoga poses in the aisles of the plane, not to mention it’s a safety hazard. If you need to get away for a few minutes, take time in the bathroom to do a breathing exercise. First, inhale for eight seconds, filling your lungs from the bottom up and ballooning your stomach out. Then hold for eight seconds, and release for eight seconds, exhaling completely. Hold for eight seconds, and repeat for as long as necessary. While you’re breathing, take note of what parts of your body are tense. Are you unconsciously pulling your shoulders or clenching your fingers? Take note of what muscles you don’t need to use and release them.
Barely got time for a coffee and feel like you’re falling under a mountain of work? We’ve all been there, but you should take a break, even if it’s for five minutes.
A quick break: Set an alarm for 5-10 minutes, or however long you’ll think you need. Then track the time.
For the first minute, run in place. This gets blood flowing to your body and brain. Next, do some jumping jacks, remembering to keep your arms straight as you bring them up to your ears. Bring your hands all the way down and try to touch your toes without bending your legs, and allow yourself to stay there upside down, swinging your arms from side to side. If the floor is clean enough, get down on the ground and do some bicycle spins for the remainder of your time. Remember to drink lots of water to keep you from being dehydrated while you go about your day.