Getting to the gym as a full-time student can be tough—there’s class work and financial and social obligations. Fortunately, there are other ways to get your workout in whether it’s on your way to class, mid–study session, or on the occasional night off from the books. Bonus: Just 10 minutes of physical activity can give you an immediate boost in brainpower to help you get that A, according to 2017 research published in Neuropsychologia.
1. Commute to class by foot
Put your phone away—the trance-like zombie walk isn’t going to help your fitness case. Make your commute to class count by either fast-walking, biking, or skateboarding your way there, recommends exercise physiologist Jenna Cabrera, MS, a physical therapy technician at Mclean County Orthopedics in Bloomington, IL. If you’re on wheels, just make sure to wear your helmet.
2. Find free parking
If you have to drive to campus, opt for a free parking lot, says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also score plenty of extra steps, since free lots are typically the farthest from class, she explains.
3. Walk and work
Got writer’s block? Take a walk. Stanford University research shows that people are 60 percent more creative when they’re walking than when they’re sitting.
4. Take advantage of bathroom breaks
Many long lectures and labs include a short 10- or 15-minute bathroom break. Use it! Stretch, walk, do some lunges in the hall, or climb a flight of stairs, Pritchett says.
5. Participate in intramurals
You don’t have to have a sports scholarship to play around. Cabrera recommends visiting your campus’ office of recreation to learn about intramurals and clubs from softball and soccer to ultimate Frisbee and parkour.
6. Get credit
Many schools offer fitness-based classes such as yoga, weight-lifting, and dance for credit, according to Pritchett. Plus, if the class you are taking is for credit, it will increase your accountability!
7. Take a time-out
Time flies when you’re…writing papers. Download a free app such as Time Out to remind yourself to get up and move when you need it most. Use your time-out to perform some incline push-ups with your hands on your desk, squats in your dorm room, or some silent stretches in the library.
8. Cycle through long readings
Textbooks can have a way of putting you to sleep. Change that by reading them as you pedal away on a stationary bike. Your hands will be free for plenty of highlighting and note-taking.
9. Embrace athleisure wear
That way, whenever your classes or clubs take you near the campus gym, you can get in a short workout. No gym bag required.
10. Bring the dance party
Health-ify house parties with some dancing. You can expect to burn roughly 100 calories in just 30 minutes, according to Harvard University.
11. Be a fidgety student
Research in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that fidgeting during long lectures can help counteract some of the effects of sitting disease, Cabrera says. To keep from distracting your fellow students (and teacher), keep fidgets subtle with toe taps, glute squeezes, and neck stretches.