Workouts to help de-stress in college

There are plenty of ways we can stay in shape, even in the stressful void that is college. (Ben Webb/Flickr Creative Commons)

There are plenty of ways we can stay in shape, even in the stressful void that is college. (Ben Webb/Flickr Creative Commons)

So far, 2018 seems to be the year of executing plans to reach the goals we made for ourselves last year by applying all of the new information we acquired. We all have things we would like to improve, whether it be with our bodies, our minds, our careers, or just our everyday lives. For a lot of college students, fitness is both important and somewhat of a struggle, mostly because we live off of ramen and hot Cheetos and generally feel lethargic and stressed. Finding time to get to the gym can be tough, but a lot of people strive to make it a priority, especially when the new year comes around. Luckily, there are plenty of ways we can stay in shape, even in the stressful void that is college.

Running is one of the best forms of cardio, even though it’s an acquired taste. Not everyone enjoys it, but studies have shown that running can decrease the risk of certain cancers by almost 30 percent, is a surefire way to lose weight and can relieve stress and anxiety. In a college atmosphere, we’re constantly surrounded by stress and anxiety, so running is a great way to clear your mind and blow off steam. It releases excess energy and hormones, which can also prevent headaches. A lot of people don’t get into running because they’re afraid they’re going to be slow or they won’t be “good at it.” You don’t have to be fast or worry about your pace; you’re running for yourself to achieve your personal fitness goal, so the only person you’re up against is you.

The gym is a wonderful place once you’ve grown familiar with the machines and start seeing some of the benefits and results that come from your time spent there. If running isn’t your thing, the elliptical is another great way to get some cardio in and get your blood flowing. It targets the lower body muscles, such as the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps. Though it’s lower impact than walking or running, it is still a good way to tone up

The Stairmaster is one of my personal favorite machines at the gym, because you can really feel it working your muscles the entire time you’re on it. Not only does it tone your lower body, but it also strengthens your core, is easy on your joints and is a great way to lose weight. You’ll probably be sweating intensely within the first two minutes of being on the machine, but it’s definitely worth it. And remember that sweating is just your body releasing toxins, so there’s an incentive.

I didn’t discover weight lifting until a little under two years ago, but it has completely changed my perspective. The common misconception women have about lifting is that it will turn them into a female John Cena look-alike. False. Experiment with the weights and machines and find the right weight for you. Once you do, all it does is tone you up. This is much less broad than cardio, because you can target specific areas of your body and tone them however much you want. Weight lifting will help you lose body fat, gain strength without bulking you up, burn more calories and relieve stress and back pain. It really makes you feel like you’re getting something done in terms of working out. The soreness means it’s working.

Knowing what to do to transform certain areas of your body or stay in shape is one thing, but actually finding time to get to the gym is quite another. It can be hard to get up in the morning and go right there, especially when it’s freezing cold outside. But feeling refreshed after a workout is definitely worth it.

Personally, I enjoy going to the gym or running first thing in the morning, not only because I feel like I’ve gotten it over with, but also because it makes me feel ready for the day. It’s also one of the less busy times at the gym, so it won’t be as crowded. Going at night is a pretty busy time, since a lot of people are busy with classes during the day. But it will help you get a better sleep, because your body will be extra tired.

Lastly, if you’re stuck inside due to snow or other forms of bad weather, which is very likely this time of year, there are apps you can use to get an at-home workout in. One of my favorites is Jillian Michaels’ app because it lets you select the area of your body that you want to work on and gives you exercises specifically for that area. From personal experience, I can confirm that her workouts are effective, and if done regularly, can really tone your body. There are also tons of YouTube videos that take you through exercise routines, so utilizing the internet can really help you find ways to stay in shape, even when you don’t want to leave your house or dorm.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.