The life of a student is often a juggling act. Between lectures, study sessions, and maintaining a social life, it can be difficult to fit in time to exercise.
To help you out, we've pulled together our top student fitness tips as well as some quick and easy workouts to fit into your busy schedule so you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
Why is fitness important for students?
- Helps reduce stress — When stressed, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, triggering the "fight or flight" response with heightened heart rate and tension. But thankfully, exercising regularly can help reduce these hormone levels. Stick to a regular workout routine, and over time, your body gets better at keeping stress in check. And this can help with managing the pressures of coursework, exams, and looming deadlines!
- Better sleep — A good night's sleep is vital for memory retention and overall mental well-being, making those early lectures more bearable. Exercise can improve your sleep quality and help you drift off faster, so you're all set to focus on learning and, of course, making new friends.
- Boosted mental health — Exercise releases natural feel-good chemicals like endorphins and dopamine in the brain which act as mood elevators. This helps in managing the pressures of coursework, exams, and deadlines more effectively.
- Healthy weight maintenance — With many students exposed to unhealthy food choices and irregular eating habits, university weight gain isn’t uncommon. But by incorporating regular workouts into your routine, you can maintain a healthy weight and keep potential health issues in check.
Fitness tips for students
1. Exercise with a friend
Teaming up with a friend for workouts gives you a sense of accountability — it's much harder to cancel when you know someone is counting on you! And it also makes exercise more enjoyable. Those morning jogs or gym sessions become social events you wouldn't want to miss.
2. Join group classes
Group classes are an excellent way for students to mix socialising with fitness. The communal and lively energy of these sessions really keeps you going.
We also offer student discount, so you can enjoy up to 40% off your Fitness First membership!
3. Workout in the morning
Opting for morning workouts sets a positive and energetic tone for the day, ensuring you stay alert during lectures and tutorials. Getting your exercise out the way first thing also means you sidestep potential distractions like assignments or spontaneous meet-ups.
Laying out your gym outfit the night before streamlines your morning routine; you won't need to search for or decide on what to wear. And having your gear set and ready acts as a visual prompt, increasing the chances of sticking to your exercise plan.
4. Set realistic goals
Of course, setting goals can be motivating, but it's crucial to keep them achievable. This way, you're more likely to stay on track and feel overwhelmed or burnt out.
If you're new to the gym, it's a good idea to begin with just one or two sessions a week and focus on foundational exercises like squats or even walking on the treadmill. Over time, you can build up the frequency and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Remember, it's not about how fast you progress but about forming habits and a sustainable routine. Consistency is the key to long-term success!
5. Consider using a personal trainer
We know being a student often means sticking to a budget, but if you're unsure about where to start or how to optimise your workouts, it might be worth allocating some funds for a personal trainer. Even if it's just for a few sessions, their expertise can steer you in the right direction. And this can ensure your workouts are both effective and suited to your individual goals.
At Fitness First, we offer all new members a free 30-minute session, so you can get a taste of the guidance and motivation a personal trainer brings to the table. Plus, you can get up to 40% off your membership with our student discount!
6. Walk as much as possible
Staying active between gym sessions is the perfect way to up your fitness levels. And one of the simplest ways to do this is by choosing to walk or cycle to your lectures. Not only does it save on transportation costs, but it also ensures you get your heart rate up at least twice a day.
And here's another quick tip: skip the lift and take the stairs whenever you can. It's a sneaky yet effective way to add a bit more movement to your routine!
7. Go to the gym between classes
Do you ever find yourself with some free time between classes? Instead of just scrolling on your phone or grabbing another coffee, why not head over to the gym? It’s a productive way to fill that gap and get active.
Plus, research has shown that just 20 minutes of exercise can enhance concentration due to increased blood flow to the brain. So you’ll return to your next class feeling focused, re-energised, and ready to learn.
Easy workouts for students
Staying fit doesn't always mean dedicating hours at the gym. We've put together some quick, manageable workouts that can easily fit into your schedule.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about maximising your effort in minimal time, ensuring you get a solid burn in a short window. In the workout below, there are eight exercises, and one circuit lasts just eight minutes. Depending on how much time you have, you can run through the exercises two to five times (between 18-44 minutes total), making it easy to fit into your busy schedule.
Each exercise is to be performed for 45 seconds with a 15-second rest in between.
- Jump squats — Start in a squat position, jump explosively as high as you can and then land back softly into the squat position.
- Push-ups — With your body in a straight line from head to heels, lower yourself to the floor and then push through the palms to straighten your arms.
- High knees — While running in place, drive your knees towards your chest as fast as you can. Use your arms for added momentum.
- Plank to alternating toe touch — From a plank position, lift your right hand off the ground to touch your left foot and then switch.
- Burpees — Begin standing, drop into a squat with your hands on the ground, kick your feet back into a push-up position, return to the squat position, and then jump up.
- Mountain climbers — Starting in a plank position, drive your knees to your chest one at a time as if you're climbing.
- Alternating jump lunges — Start in a lunge stance with your right leg forward and left leg extended back, both knees at a 90-degree angle. Ensure your front knee is directly above your ankle. Jump, switching legs in mid-air, and then land softly.
- Russian twists — Sitting on the ground with bent knees, lean back slightly, keeping your back straight. Clasp your hands together in front of you, then twist your torso first to the left, then to the right and repeat.
After finishing all eight exercises, take a 1-minute rest before beginning the next circuit.
To learn more, read our beginner’s guide to HIIT training. We also offer group HIIT classes at Fitness First, where our experienced instructors guide you through intense sessions, ensuring proper form and technique.
Kettlebells are a fantastic tool for full-body workouts, merging both strength training and cardiovascular fitness into one.
For students pressed for time, here's a kettlebell circuit designed to get the most out of a short session:
- Kettlebell Swings — Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands, swing it between your legs and then, using your hips, thrust forward, swinging the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
- Goblet squats — Hold the kettlebell close to your chest. With feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, perform a squat, ensuring your knees don't go past your toes.
- Kettlebell row — Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in one hand. Bend forward at the hips until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and a slight bend in your knees. Your free hand can be placed on your hip or extended out for balance. Hold the kettlebell in one hand and row it towards your hip, then switch sides.
- Kettlebell lunge press — Holding the kettlebell in your right hand by your shoulder, step forward with your left foot into a lunge. As you lunge, press the kettlebell overhead. Return to the start and switch sides.
- Kettlebell deadlift — Stand with feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell between your feet. Bend at the hips and knees, grasp the kettlebell with both hands, then push through your heels to stand straight, maintaining a neutral back.
Execute each exercise for 12-15 repetitions. Once you've finished all five exercises, take a 1-2 minute rest. Depending on your fitness level and the time you have, aim for 2-4 rounds.
If you're looking for a speedy workout that's guaranteed to get your heart pumping, this 30-second sprint interval treadmill workout is just the ticket. Lasting just under 30 minutes, it's perfect for a quick morning workout before classes, increasing your energy and focus for the day. And if you have an extra 10 minutes to spare, you can top it off with an ab workout for a core strengthening session.
- Warm-up — Begin with a brisk walk or light jog for five minutes, allowing your muscles to warm up. This pace should feel comfortable, letting you hold a conversation without panting.
- Sprint intervals — After your warm-up, accelerate to a faster jog or sprint for 30 seconds. This pace should elevate your heart rate, making it harder to maintain a conversation.
- Recovery — Dial back to an easy jog or brisk walk for 90 seconds. This helps bring your heart rate down a touch while preparing you for the next interval.
- Repeat — Repeat the 30-second sprint and 90-second recovery cycle 10 more times or less, depending on your fitness level and the time you have.
- Cool-down — Round off your treadmill workout with a 4-minute cool-down. This can be a combination of an easy jog, gradually slowing down to a relaxed walk, allowing your heart rate to return to its resting state.
Here's an optional ab workout for after your run:
- Plank (30 seconds) — Begin in a push-up-like position, but instead of resting on your hands, rest on your elbows. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles. Engage your core muscles throughout to maintain this rigid posture.
- Bicycle crunches (30 seconds) — Lay flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Raise your legs off the ground, bending at the knees. Now, bring your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening your right leg. Alternate sides in a pedalling motion, as if riding a bicycle.
- Leg raises (15 reps) — Lying flat on your back, place your hands by your sides or tuck them underneath your glutes for support. Keeping your legs straight, raise them up towards the ceiling and then slowly lower them down without letting them touch the floor.
- Mountain climbers (30 seconds) — Start in a plank or push-up position. Alternate driving your knees towards your chest in a running motion.
- Sit-ups (15 reps) — Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Cross your arms over your chest or place them behind your head. Engage your core and lift your upper body off the ground, then slowly lower back down.
Remember, engaging your core and focusing on form is crucial for the effectiveness of the workout. It's always better to prioritise proper technique over speed, ensuring your muscles are worked correctly and safely.
Stay active as a student with Fitness First
Staying active as a student is important for your physical health, mental well-being, and academic performance. That's why at Fitness First, you can save up to 40% on your membership with our student discount, ensuring you stay fit without straining your budget.
Join today or book a free visit to experience our facilities. And for more inspiration, check out our blog to read up on the latest fitness and nutrition advice from the expert personal trainers at Fitness First.