Whether you’re concerned about your weight or you just want to be healthy, keep your body moving. Exercise is a great way to get your blood flowing, reduce stress, stay or become fit, strengthen your muscles, reduce your risk for some diseases and cancers, and maybe even increase your lifespan. It can clear the mind and help you retain information, which is great when finals are looming.


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How much exercise do I need?

The CDC and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans maintain two general exercise recommendations for adults ages 18 to 64.

  • Cardio:
    • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 150 minutes every week (e.g., brisk walking, water aerobics, bike riding on level ground)
    • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for 75 minutes every week (e.g., running, bike riding on hills, basketball)
    • A combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. One minute of vigorous activity is said to have equivalent health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening: Work all major muscle groups at least twice a week (e.g., weight training for resistance and strength, endurance exercises, push ups, sit ups, yoga).

If you have a physical disability, exercise can be a great way to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor before following the CDC workout recommendations. Your doctor can help you develop a workout routine specific to your body.

You don’t have to do all of your weekly exercise in one day. In fact, you can spread it out in 10-minute intervals. You also don’t have to limit yourself to those timeframes. If you want to do more than 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, you’ll enjoy even more health benefits.

How can I make sure I get enough exercise on campus?

  • Walk to class. Don’t dawdle; scurry to your next class. Ten minutes is enough to get the blood flowing before you have to sit in a 90-minute lecture.
  • Take a stretch break. If your professor stops the lesson to give everyone a break, don’t stay seated. Get up, drink from the water fountain, stretch your muscles.
  • Take the stairs. Live on the fourth floor? That elevator sure is tempting, but climb the stairs instead. It will only take you a couple of extra minutes, and you’ll burn five times as many calories as you would if you took the lift.
  • Ride your bike. Not only is bike riding the fastest way to maneuver through those windy college paths, but you’ll be burning calories too. If you don’t have a bike, consider getting one from your local classifieds or Craigslist. Your bike doesn’t have to be fancy, especially if you plan to use it on a relatively flat campus. Register your bike with campus security in case of theft. Some colleges offer “bike share” programs. You may have to pay a small fee to access shared bikes whenever you want.
  • Play collegiate sports. You don’t have to be a D-1 athlete to play ball in college. Intramural and club teams are open to any students who want to play.
  • Study at the gym. Bring your book with you and read in between sets or while plugging away on the elliptical machine.
  • Play an impromptu sports game with friends. Shoot hoops or throw Frisbee. It’s a study break and a workout built into one. Plus, you might as well take advantage of all of that green space on campus.
  • Take field trips off campus. Go hiking, swimming, ice skating, or dancing. Your college town and its surrounding area have parks, pools, skating rinks, and clubs to help you stay active while having fun.
  • Follow YouTube workout videos. Save this one for a rainy day. You don’t even have to leave your room. Invest in a yoga mat to give yourself some support when you’re finishing a set of crunches. It rolls up to fit easily into even the tiniest dorm room.
  • Take a gym class for credit. Need motivation to exercise? Work out for class credit. Many colleges offer gym classes for pass/fail credit. That’s to say that you don’t have to hit an ace in every match to ace your tennis class. Come to class with an open mind to learn more about the sport. You’ll leave with a new skill and your daily workout completed.
  • Use your gym membership. While everyone else is shelling out $40.00 a month to join a fitness center, college students already took care of their fees by paying tuition. Take advantage of your college gym while it’s available to you. Once you graduate, you’ll have to start paying to use the treadmill.

Page last updated: 12/2016