Navigating a busy schedule in college can be difficult. Between academics, work, your social life, and some much-needed me-time, finding the time to work out can seem like an afterthought. And while staying in shape is vital for your physical health, keeping your body mobile is also essential for your mental health. Remember: it’s not about looking good, as much as it is about feeling good.
As we gear up for the back-to-school season, or if you’re juggling a summer internship or job, now is the time to find a way to fit a workout into your busy schedule. From planning ahead to finding a workout buddy, here are 7 tips for working out in college.
1. Schedule workouts ahead of time
Chances are, you rarely miss class, an appointment, or a meeting, so why should you miss a workout? Yes, life happens and sometimes things come up, but if you treat working out as an important obligation rather than an optional activity, you’ll be less likely to bail.
According to a 2019 study by the journal Psychological Science, of 282 participants over the course of 20 weeks, found that people who scheduled their workouts were more likely to hit the gym regularly. By recognizing a workout as a part of your daily routine, you’ll find that heading to the gym will become second nature. Remember, making time to work out ultimately benefits all areas of your life, and it’s important to take care of yourself first, especially if you’re juggling a busy schedule.
2. find workouts you actually enjoy
There’s a common misconception that workouts have to be these soul-sucking, strenuous activities that you dread taking part in every day. However, there are a variety of different workouts that you can do, and even enjoy. From Zumba, to dance fitness, to boxing, to yoga, try to find a workout that makes you feel motivated to hit the gym.
Being around others in a workout class can also feel like great motivation to prioritize your workouts and keep coming back. You may even make friends or find others who motivate you to challenge yourself. Working out doesn’t have to feel like a burden; it’s worth taking the time to find workouts you can have fun with.
3. Switch up your workout routine
Part of finding workouts you enjoy involves mixing up your workout routine and trying new things. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone to try a new workout class, such as boxing or yoga, or even attending class with a new instructor, is exactly the change of pace you need to keep the gym interesting. Plus, participating in a variety of workouts means you’re engaging different muscles each time, which can help you see better physical results in the end.
4. Wake up early
I’ll wait for the groans and eye rolls to be over. Finished yet? I totally get that waking up early to work out as opposed to getting an extra hour of sleep before your busy day may seem ridiculous. Especially when one of your favorite college relationships was with your bed. But hear me out, because working out in the morning might be more beneficial than you may think.
It’s true that workouts release endorphins that help make you happy, and this mood and energy boost can help you to tackle a busy day ahead of you. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get up earlier, think of it as getting your workout over with early on, that way you don’t have an entire day to make up excuses as to why you should skip the gym. Wake up, work out, and enjoy the rest of your day without the thought of a workout looming over you.
5. Choose your workout buddy wisely
Like many things in life, working out can be way more enjoyable when shared with a friend. Finding a workout buddy can sometimes be difficult because you want someone who will (actually) motivate you, and we all know it’s not easy to say no to your best friend when she says to skip the gym and hit the frats instead!
Not only can a workout buddy keep you accountable, but they’re also there to make the mundane reality of workouts more enjoyable. Hey, nobody deserves to suffer in the back of Zumba class…at least alone, right?
6. Find a gym near your school or office
Seeing a gym or studio near campus or on your route to work, every day will make it so you have no excuse but to stop in! If you’re a student, chances are there is a fitness center on campus with lots of class options. And if you’re in the working world, there may even be a company gym right at your office! Take advantage of the location and be sure to keep a change of workout clothes handy so you don’t skip out.
7. Give Yourself Grace
Finally, be sure to be kind to yourself when it comes to making workouts part of your everyday routine. We all get stressed and overwhelmed in college, and sometimes working out can be the absolute last thing on our minds. If you miss a class by sleeping in from last night’s study sesh, or if you need a mental health day and can’t bring yourself to the gym, know that it’s important to put yourself first.
Taking the time to carve out a few hours a week to focus on your health is crucial to success. However you decide to incorporate workouts into your weekly routine, just be sure you’re having fun with it! Going to the gym every day can be daunting, but if you make plans to go with a friend or find new classes to take, you can find the motivation to keep going. Whether you’re a busy college student or navigating post-grad life for the first time, you’ve got this. Cheers!