College life is fraught with the Freshman 15 extra pounds, all-you-can eat cafeteria food and the temptation of holiday candy and cookies. The will to exercise is low. But don’t think you have to schlep out to the gym to get a good workout. There are aerobic and resistance exercises you can do in your own dorm rooms that can build muscle and provide an effective overall workout.
Preparation and cool down
Before starting any exercise, warm up by stretching for about 5-10 minutes. Slowly get the heart rate up. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Stop exercising if your body begins to hurt (muscle ache is normal and expected). To vary your workout, do repetitions of each exercise for 60 seconds, then rest 20 seconds before trying another exercise. Each day do 15 minutes of exercises.
After your exercise routine, cool down slowly. “Cool downs gradually lower body temperature, heart rate and breathing after a workout. Cool-down activities could be a slower, lower intensity version of an exercise you just did,” recommends Colleen Harshbarger in “Dorm room workouts,” posted in West Virginia University’s WellWVU Students’ Center of Health.
Right in your room you can do 20-minute daily sessions of aerobic exercises, such as jumping jacks, jogging in place, kickboxing, air punches, leg lifts, curls and dancing to your favorite music. Follow along to an exercise web video or DVD in your room.
Pushups—This popular exercise is easy to do right on the floor. Move away items on your floor to provide a clear space to exercise on. When doing pushups, keep your head level, back straight, elbows close to your body and feet firmly on the floor.
Squats—Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms outstretched in front, back straight and feet flat on the floor. Then bend at the knees until your legs are parallel with the floor. Hold it, then stand back up.
Planks—Like pushups, planks work your core and abdominal muscles. “To perform a plank, assume a good pushup stance, lower yourself onto your elbows and hold yourself there. Correct plank form consists of a 90-degree angle in your elbows, a slightly raised head and a straight back,” advised Steven Holbrook, a journalism major at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, in “5 dorm room workouts,” posted on U.S. News, September 9, 2013. He suggested three one-minute sets.
Six-stop wall sit—“By simply pressing against a wall, you can create enough tension in your muscles for a challenging strength workout,” said B.J. Gaddour, an Amherst College graduate who creates lung-busting workouts, in “The Ultimate Dorm Room Workout,” posted by Amy Rushlow on Men’s Health.
For Gaddour’s six-stop wall sit exercise, lean against a blank wall, with your back, shoulders and head against the wall. Put your feet two feet away from the wall. Keep your knees in line with your ankles. Start to slide down the wall a few inches at a time, pausing for 10 seconds each time. Do this six times as you slide down. On the sixth stop, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Then slide back up and start again.
Chair dips—Sit on the edge of a chair (without wheels on it) with your knees at right angles to the floor and your feet flat on the floor. Grip onto the edge of the chair on either side of your hips, slide your butt off the chair, bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor. Straighten your arms to raise your body up again.
Magic carpet ride—Sit in the chair with your legs criss-crossed. Put your hands on the armrests and raise your body up off the chair a few inches, keeping your legs crossed. Hold for a few seconds in that position, then lower your body back down.
Exercises with equipment
For an investment of a few dollars, you can purchase some inexpensive exercise equipment, such as five- or ten-pound dumbbells, an exercise or balance ball or a pull-up bar.
Pull-ups and chin-ups—Pull-up bars cost about $20-$30 and can be installed in a door frame. For the exercise, grab the bar in an overhand grip, then hang for a few seconds. Then pull yourself up so your chin is above the bar; then slowly lower yourself down again.
Do you find it easy or hard to exercise in your dorm room?