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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

With midterms in full swing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stuck at your desk. Many of us had goals to maintain workout routines during the school year, but realistically, this may not always be feasible.

When you don’t have the time to get a full workout in, taking small steps towards staying active will still keep you feeling better overall!  Here are some of my favorite exercises and stretches that are relatively quick:

Neck & Shoulders

  • Stretches: Finding a quick stretching routine that I can fit in quick breaks between studying has really helped me ease both sore muscles and general tiredness. Next time you catch yourself slouching, try to throw a couple neck and shoulder rolls into your routine.

Lower body

  • Walking: For me, walking is an easy way to stay active because I’m already doing so much of it on campus. If you have access to a treadmill, I’d also recommend incline walking– in my experience, it’s done wonders for my overall strength and endurance without requiring as much effort as running. 
  • Leg stretches: These are one of my favorite ways to get awake and moving in the mornings! Some great stretches include lunges, the butterfly stretch, and reaching for your toes. This video has stretches for the whole body, but especially targets the legs. 
  • Work while standing: Standing desks became especially popular during the pandemic, but even if you don’t have one, finding any high table to switch between standing and sitting can help you get work done without keeping things too stagnant.

Core & Back 

  • Guided core workouts: This routine was where I first started– but if you’re new to core workouts, it’s normal for even a “beginner” routine to feel difficult. Go at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and always prioritize proper form over excessive repetitions. 
  • Planks: When you’re in a rush, squeezing in a one or two minute plank can give you an energy boost without taking up time. It helps to have a mirror beside you to check your form. Once you’re ready, just put on your favorite song and a timer!
  • Back stretches: Hip lifts, reverse planks, and Superman holds are great ways to stretch and strengthen your back.

Upper body

  • Pushups: Like many people, pushups aren’t my strong suit. Fortunately, pushup routines are easy to modify. Just rest on your knees instead of your toes, and only go down as far as you’re able. It may be slow, but you’ll still feel good and feel the results!
  • Arm stretches: Stretching your arms and upper body is especially important after a hard workout, but can also help reduce stiffness in general.


Taking care of your body includes looking after your brain as well!

  • Study breaks: Planning periodic breaks ahead of time can help you stay focused while having something to look forward to. I like using the pomodoro technique, which involves studying for 25 minutes then taking a 5 minute break. That’s a good time to get some movement in too!
  • Meditation: Taking a few minutes to clear your mind and focus on your breathing can help you get in a calm mindset as you get your day started. 
  • Gratitude: When you’re already under stress, it can be helpful to remind yourself about the things you have to be grateful for. These gratitude prompts are great for increasing self-reflection and staying positive.
Omisha Sangani

UC Riverside '25

Omisha is a biology major planning to pursue medicine. She enjoys writing about wellness, life experiences, and academics. Her interests include nature, fitness, art, and volunteering in her community.