Stay fit from your dorm room

By Erica Garnett


It’s hard to avoid dorm room hibernation in the winter. Spending time within the college “cave,” sleeping endlessly, watching Netflix and stuffing your face out of boredom are going to be the regrets that resurface along with the sun in late March. To avoid this, implement small changes in the choices you make within the dorm.

For starters, buy a yoga mat and weights. Even if you don’t care for yoga, the mat is still useful, and contrary to popular belief, does not require you to do headstands and hum mantras.

The mat will serve as cushiony support on the hard, cold dorm room floor for stretching and abdominal work. The weights can be used for arm workouts and aid in some abdominal workouts. Who said squats had to be done in a gym? Use your full-length mirror and weights to achieve the same workout. For the full gym effect, put on spandex and your favorite work out song for an exercise-conducive environment.

Considering you can’t run a marathon within a dorm, it is not exactly an ideal space for cardio. However, body sculpting, lower impact workouts can still be done right from a yoga mat in a dorm room. Jumping rope and hula hooping, both cardiovascular exercises, can serve as alternatives for those who typically run.

According to WebMD, jumping rope strengthens the upper body and can burn many calories in a short amount of time. In fact, you would have to run an eight-minute mile to burn more calories than jumping rope, according to WebMD. All you’ll need a 4-by-6-foot area with about 10 inches of space above your head. This is easily accomplishable in a dorm room – just be sure to warn your roommate beforehand – and stay on the yoga mat to absorb the impact.

Hula hooping is a lower impact exercise than jumping rope that still gives you a cardio workout and tones muscles. According to, hula hooping can work up to 30 muscles in and around your abdominals. So instead of hauling yourself to the gym in icy weather to run on the treadmill for an hour, get an equivalent result from one hour of intense hula hooping from within the warm privacy of your dorm room.

Cardio aside, other small changes can be made in your dorm to improve health and fitness, including using TV shows and studying to your advantage.

While watching TV, get on a yoga mat and do an abdominal workout or some leg lifts. If you can’t multitask, stick to working out during commercials. While studying, avoid the natural tendency to slump in your chair and try sitting up straight instead. According to a New York Times article by Lesley Alderman, good posture strengthens core muscle tone and hinders back and neck pain.

Although exercising is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is only half the battle.

When the weather doesn’t permit leaving the dorm room to walk to the dining hall, the importance of stocking up on healthy options is a no-brainer. Ditch the unhealthy temptation of classic comfort foods like Easy Mac and ramen noodles. Opt for alternatives such as Progresso light choices, which pack lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals into less than 100 calories per serving. Hot instant oatmeal is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and whole grains, ensuring satisfaction that will carry over into lunch. Hot, microwavable burritos such as the all natural variety by Amy’s bring refreshing warmth without sacrificing protein, fiber and iron for a relatively low amount of fat and carbohydrates.

Remember to drink lots of water and tea with meals to stay cozy and fuller longer.

Erica Garnett can be reached at [email protected]