Fitness Articles

Dorm Room Workouts

The Freshman 15 is an Elective, Not a Requirement

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Cardio Options
  • (FREE!) Even though you might feel corny by yourself, you can "design" your own workout for your small place. Try a combination of any of the following low-impact moves, always trying to get both your arms and legs involved:
    • Marching in place
    • Stepping up and down the stairs or running the stairs in your building
    • Side steps (step touch)
    • Jogging in place or high knee running in place
    • Grapevines sideways, forward and back
    • Jumping jacks
    • Kickboxing moves (front kicks, squats, side kicks, punches)
    • Turn on your favorite music and just dance!
  • ($) If space and ceilings allow, jumping rope ($6) can torch big calories. If you don't have room for a rope, mimic it with your hands and wrists. Jump in place, skip, hop on one foot, etc. to get your heart pumping.
  • ($$) Workout videos or DVDs ($10+) offer a lot of variety for a very low investment. Some workouts can be done in a small space, such as low impact aerobics, kickboxing, cardio Pilates, belly dancing, and more. If you need more room, grab a couple of friends and take your video to the lounge area of the dorm.
Strength Training Options Flexibility Options
  • (FREE!) Use what you have. Most stretches can be done while sitting or standing, so you don't need any special equipment. SparkPeople's Stretching Guide will help you get started, whether you want to take breaks at your desk, or use more space and time for a full body routine. Consider using your dorm furniture to help increase your stretching capacity: prop up foot up onto your chair, desk, or bed to stretch the hamstrings more deeply; use the walls for stretching your arms, chest, and calves.
  • ($) Invest in a yoga workout video. This form of exercise not only stretches and strengthens, but it also helps relieve stress and calm that busy mind, preparing you for a more restful sleep or energized day.
  • ($$) Consider buying a yoga mat ($20) or padded exercise mat ($25+). Both can be rolled up or folded away easily, and they will make stretching (and other floor exercises) much more comfortable.
Dorm life doesn't have to be a doom. For little or no money, the single room that multitasks as a bedroom, study, kitchen and lounge can also become your own personal gym. Leave college weight gain at the door. In just a few minutes a day, you'll see a toned, healthy, and relaxed body and mind. What better way to experience college life?
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • When I attended the Arkansas Tech University anyone could sign up for their gym for a fee of $10 per semester. This was a state of the art gym and Olympic size pool. I imagine many other universities offer similar options. Also everyone mostly walked across campus (a very large campus) since parking options was greatly restricted. - 8/28/2015 8:28:28 AM
  • I am living in a small apartment, these are great, except that the downstairs neighbor is a noise fascist! I cannot walk let alone try any activity without a knock at the door and a disturbing discussion about quiet hours. Are there any cardio activities that are quiet or am I doomed to have to go outside for this? - 10/3/2014 1:23:36 PM
  • Great article - 9/23/2013 9:00:42 PM
  • ANIMATOR606432
    Jumping rope is the choose at my dorm currently. It's not HUGE but it's big enough to where I can jump rope with a decent amount of space. The issue I have is eating. It's not that I even eat to much, it's that I have to eat SO early that I end up hungry at strange hours in the night.
    Add that to the fact that i'm working out as well and i'm worried that I won't lose any weight. I don't snack very often, and I limited myself to the desert bar. Maybe i'll have 2 or three oatmeal cookies. Sometimes I pig out eating lactose free soft served ice cream and cake. - 9/16/2013 9:01:32 PM
  • Great article. My college years was the bomb. I didn't start putting on weight until I got married and had children. - 9/16/2013 7:28:32 PM
  • I actually took gym classes in college (something I swore I'd never do when I left high school). I did fencing and self defense. We had a great gym and it was pretty far from my dorm so it was good exercise just getting there.

    - 9/16/2013 11:44:46 AM
  • Although I am very far from my college years, I plan on taking from this when I am traveling this summer! - 6/6/2013 6:09:02 AM
  • I was probably my most fit ever when I was in college. The gym we had was state of the art, and my friends and I went every other day or more. There really is no excuse when you are in college, especially with a gym available to you. My dream is to have that available to me now! But alas, I am doing home workouts instead (which are working good too). - 3/19/2013 9:44:06 AM
  • Now how much of that weight is from actually eating rather than all the calories taken in by the binge drinking that college is also notorious for...? - 1/13/2013 8:37:45 PM
  • When I was in college, I actually lost 15-20lbs during my freshman and sophomore years. The school had a free gym that was within walking distance and fresh fruit in the dining hall. It wasn't until I got married at the end of my junior year that I started gaining my weight back.

    I sure do miss that gym! If you're lucky enough to go to a school that has free gym access for students, you should definitely take advantage. I usually went in the morning, after the athletic teams were finished and before the rest of the students were even up yet! - 10/12/2011 9:29:31 PM
  • Most colleges have gyms that are free for students to use. They also offer fitness classes for free or little charge. I was pretty good about working out in college. The problem for me wasn't until after college. - 3/9/2011 12:36:49 PM
  • This article was awesome. Anyone with the Freshman 15+ can appreciate that. SparkPeople has been amazing with helping me drop that Freshman 15!!! - 12/14/2009 2:01:12 PM
  • This article is great for anyone in tight spaces or even anyone living with families/roomies. - 11/7/2009 8:02:40 PM
    I think the freshman 15 rule assumes you've eaten healthily and been active at home. I actually managed to lose weight when I went to school. It was only a handful of pounds, and I sometimes had to be cautious of the dessert bar, but it wasn't hard. I went from a lifestyle of convenience foods to a dorm cafeteria where I could chose exactly what I wanted in addition to walking everywhere.

    Plus, knowing my own tendency toward boredom eating, I never kept food in my dorm room. I saved all my eatings for meals in the cafeteria, and kept myself from snacking while studying/hanging out/etc. - 11/7/2009 11:53:43 AM
    Target is another great store for inexpensive exercise equipment and workout dvds. I've found a lot of wonderful things there on clearance. - 10/25/2009 9:09:05 PM

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