College students may find it difficult to fit physical activity into a busy schedule of classes, homework, jobs, and family responsibilities. But given the benefits—such as fitness, camaraderie, and refreshment—it’s an essential element of their success and overall sense of well being.

Thankfully, staying active while you’re in college doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. In his book Becoming a Master Student, Fifteenth Edition, Dave Ellis shares eight simple ways to stay active on campus, which we’ve summarized below. These suggestions can help make exercise fun, refreshing, and easy to do! Share them with students who want a bit of motivation for getting active.

  1. Take advantage of every opportunity to get active. Move as much as possible each day. Choose the stairs, rather than an escalator or elevator. Rather than driving to the store, walk. Bike to class. If you’ve been sitting for a long time, get up to stretch and walk. That said, don’t expect yourself to run marathons your first week out. Build up your level of activity, and soon you’ll see progress.
  2. Investigate the options available on campus. You’ll likely find a list of fitness classes in your school’s catalog; review it to see what’s available, then sign up for an interesting class that fits your schedule. Don’t forget to check out the fitness center and intramural teams as well!
  3. Choose an activity you like. Remember that exercise can take a variety of forms—from tennis to mountain climbing, karate to rowing—so find something you enjoy and go for it. When you like what you’re doing, you’ll be more likely to stay with it.
  4. Mix up your workout schedule. Rotate your activities by season, or by day of the week. Run on Mondays; play soccer on Wednesdays. Take advantage of great weather by spending time hiking, swimming, or playing team sports outdoors; choose an indoor activity, like jazz dance, spinning, or indoor basketball, when the rain, snow, or cold makes it too difficult to exercise outside. The variety will keep your routine fresh and give you something to anticipate with eagerness.
  5. Make exercise part of your morning must-do’s. Like to get your workout out of the way? Get it in before you head to class.
  6. Find exercise buddies. Just as study buddies support your goal to do well on a test or assignment, having a group of friends with whom you exercise can make the time both fun and rewarding. What’s more, if you know others are depending on you for that game of softball or flag football, you’ll be more likely to commit.
  7. Join a gym with confidence. Though you may not feel you “fit in” at the gym, the key may be to choose the right gym for you. True, many gyms cater to the more athletic among us; but many others serve those with a variety of fitness levels and objectives. So, if you do want to join a gym, select a location that has an inspiring environment that offers the services that support your goals.
  8. Be patient with yourself. No one expects you to run a marathon, cycle fifty miles, or drop twenty pounds within a week’s time. Celebrate your progress, and keep up your activity with the knowledge that you’ll be doing you health a favor.

Important note: Consult your doctor or other health-care professional before you embark on a new fitness regime. (Ellis, 323)

Reference: Ellis, Dave. Becoming a Master Student, 15th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


How do you stay active on campus? Share your tips below!