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The start of another semester means that everyone is settling into their school, social, and exercise routines. After long days of Zoom classes, our bodies are stiff and dying to move, but the challenges of COVID-19 closing the gym, subzero temperatures and snow banks restricting time outside, and online workout programs requiring specific equipment and ample space make finding a suitable fitness routine difficult in a small dorm room. But these obstacles don’t mean that our physical and mental health needs to suffer! This guide includes all of the exercises you need to try that use only common dorm items and are ideal for a compact space to stay healthy despite the challenges of a wintery, pandemic early semester. 

1. Towel Climbers

Mountain Climbers are a common exercise that can easily incorporate more cardio into a workout. Spice up this simple move in your dorm room by using a spare bath towel as a slider! Start in a plank position with your feet shoulder width apart on the towel. One at a time, slide your foot towards your hand so that your knee comes into your chest. Repeat this move in one minute increments to work your whole body! See an example here.

2. Textbook Triceps

It’s time to put the textbook that’s been weighing down your backpack to more use! Press the textbook flat between your palms and lift it over your head. Making sure to keep your elbows tight to your head and facing forward, slowly lower the textbook behind your head and then straighten your arms to lift the book above your head again. Repeat this move in sets of 16 to get those triceps trembling! See a similar example here

3. Desk Chair Dips 

Whether or not you have been using your desk chair for studying, it can double as a simple workout tool. With your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly squat to sit in the chair. Straighten your knees back to a standing position immediately after making contact with the chair. Repeat this moves in sets of 16, and if you still aren’t feeling the burn modify the difficulty by keeping one leg lifted off of the ground. See an example here

4. Water Bottle Arms

Don’t have your own set of weights? Two filled reusable water bottles make the perfect light weights for an arm circuit. Start with both arms horizontally outstretched. With a water bottle “weight” in each hand, rotate your palms to face the ground and then the ceiling. Next, keeping a stretched wingspan and your palms facing upward, rotate both arms in a small circle. Lastly, bend your elbows to bring the water bottles in a vertical position, forming a goal post shape. Keeping your elbows in a right angle, lower the water bottles to face the floor and then lift them back to the upright goal post position. Repeat each move for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest in between, and be sure to stay hydrated after by drinking those water bottles! See examples here and here

5. College Ruled Wall Sit

The beauty of a wall sit is that it can be done virtually anywhere, including against the drag cinderblock of your dorm room! With your back pressed flat against the wall, bend your knees into a sitting position. Hold this position for one minute increments, or to increase the difficulty use your hands to press a sheet of notebook paper against the wall with your arms outstretched. Slide the notebook paper over your head and then back down to work your core, arms, and legs! See an example here

6. Pillow Pass Abs

The throw pillow on your bed isn’t only for decoration! Starting flat on your back with your arms overhead, place a small pillow between your ankles. Using your core, lift your upper body into a sitting position and bend your knees to retrieve the pillow with your hands. Holding the pillow between your hands, slowly return to laying flat with your arms overhead. Lifting into a sitting position again, pass the pillow back to your ankles. Repeat this move in sets of 16 to build a strong core. See an example here

7. Detergent Swings

Ignore the growing pile of laundry in the corner and use your detergent as an at-home kettlebell instead! Holding the handle of your detergent bottle with both hands, bend your knees into a squat and lower the bottle towards the ground. While straightening your knees to stand back up, lift the detergent bottle in front of you so that it’s horizontal to the ground. Repeat this squat and swinging motion in sets of 16 (and then maybe finally do your laundry)! See an example here.

8. Chill Out Hamstring Stretch

If you can’t find the energy for an intense workout at the end of a long day, try this easy and low impact stretch instead. It’s so relaxing you can do it while lying in bed! Laying down on your back, lift your legs to be flat against a wall. With almost no effort, this stretch extends your hamstrings, straightens your lower back, and allows any lactic acid buildup in your legs to dissipate. Hold this stretch for as long as it feels good! See an example here.  




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