You do have time to exercise, and you can log great workouts in very little time. It’s true that you can stay in shape with just thirty minutes three times per week; and lots of work-outs are designed with that time constraint in mind.
While you grind your way through college, exercising and eating your vegetables have approximately the same status: You know you ought to do both, but with no one nearby to make you do the right things, you can promise yourself, “Yeah, yeah, maybe tomorrow,” and resume your regularly scheduled gaming already in progress.

You can, however, break-out of this nasty degenerative cycle with a little clever self-deception. Grate your healthy greens and mix them into your hamburgers so that you don’t even taste them. Applying the same principle to your exercise routine, refer to those heavy-breathing, very-sweaty, sometimes-hydraulic, fantasy-filled half-hours in the company of strangers as “play time.” Then, work your body like you need it:

Power Yoga

Try a “power yoga” DVD. “Power yoga” may not exactly direct the energy to your chakras as the purists demand, and it may not attend to the animal symbolism or spirituality in yoga as best practices would require, but half-hour yoga sessions with a good DVD efficiently deliver excellent results. Regardless of its form, yoga stretches all your major muscle groups, elevates your heartbeat and respiration, and develops your balance.

Surprisingly, although yoga focuses on stretching, breathing, and balancing, it very effectively strengthens and tones your muscles; and, of course, because all yoga demands focus, concentration, and rhythmic breathing, it radically reduces stress. Practicing yoga with a DVD makes it convenient; dropping-in on a yoga class, however, makes it a lot more fun. Check the schedules at your campus recreation center.

Ride an Exercise Bike

Ride the stationary bike or an exercise bike. No, riding the bike does not exactly max-out the fun factor, but it does deliver an intense cardio-pulmonary workout in a very short time. Most people watch television while they ride, claiming it distracts them from the pain of pushing the pedals; now, however, in the iPad age, lots of college students combining bicycle time with texting, social networking, and quick homework assignments.

The opportunity for multi-tasking, of course, represents the bike’s greatest advantage. That, and the inescapable fact that you can put-in some quality exercise time, get very sweaty, and still shower, dress, and make it to class in approximately an hour.

How About a Tread Climber?

Work the “tread-climber.” You probably have seen the commercials proclaiming the miraculous benefits of time devoted to climbing as if ascending Mt. Everest without going anywhere. Veteran “elliptical trainers” attest the commercials tell the truth, stressing that treadmills recreate all the risks and drudgery of jogging outside, but emphasizing that various kinds of “steppers” intensify the workout while simultaneously minimizing the risk of impact injuries. One beginner confesses, “It’s actually kinda humbling, because the first few times, you work your heart out, and you barely can keep going for ten minutes.” She quickly adds, “The results are great, though. I feel terrific!”

Swimming is Also Very Good

Swim 50-yard repeats. You need not compete with Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin to benefit from their serious pool-time routines. “Fifty yards” is the same is up and back in a standard sized pool—a comfortable distance even for intermediates. Olympians repeat their fifty-yard blasts every 45 seconds.

Your timing may vary…a lot. Intermediate swimmers comfortably can repeat fifty-yard drills every two minutes; and most can complete twenty repetitions before their lungs explode or their hair turns green. The hyper-chlorinated set says intermediates should decrease their intervals before they add distance. Doing the math as you towel-off, you discover that you toted-up 1000 yards in forty minutes. Not bad.

Or You Could Just Play…

Just play. If you ever played baseball or softball, yu must remember how much fun you had in the batting cages. Why not do it again? If you love basketball, you know the joy of casually shooting your favorites shots or practicing your free throws. Maybe best of all, every big kid ought to experience the undeniable joy of just simply “having a catch.” If it worked in Field of Dreams, it ought to work just as well on the grassy knoll behind the dorm. Whatever you always have enjoyed playing, reprise it as your exercise routine. Because it’s fun, you quickly will forget it’s good exercise—that’s the beauty of it.

If your motivation fails from time to time, do the collegiate thing. Go to the research. Reliable studies clearly document the benefits of exercise not only for health but also for academic performance. In a carefully controlled, definitive university study, students who exercised the standard thirty minutes three times per week for an entire semester had grade averages 0.4 higher than students who exercised only occasionally or not at all.

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