Burst, full body workouts a must for busy college students

Kaitie Marolf, freshman in mass communications, performs a v-sit exercise in her residence hall room on Sept. 30, 2014. (Caitlyn Massy | The Collegian)

Working out is often a phenomenon in the college world. It’s something we know other students are doing, and it’s obviously a beneficial addition to anyone’s schedule. However, it tends to evade us when it comes down to actually finding a time and fitness plan that consistently works in our favor.

After all, between classes, jobs, internships and everything else, we’re lucky if we have time to feed ourselves and squeeze in a few hours of sleep during a 24-hour cycle, right?

“Sometimes, working out doesn’t even cross my mind until I’m finally home after a long day,” Katie Bourk, senior in public relations, said. “At that point, I don’t even have the energy, let alone the time, to do anything.”

Bourk’s peril is something college students are all too familiar with. In fact, adults across the nation are feeling pressed for the time, space or know-how to make exercising a part of their lives. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and only one-in-three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

So, how can busy college students avoid skimping on exercise without taking up hours of their day at the gym? Fitness director of Pro Fitness and K-State fitness instructor Diana Knox offers a solution.

“I’m a big proponent of tabata workouts,” Knox said. “Tabatas are 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds or a total of four minutes.”

Knox said virtually any type of exercise can be converted to a tabata interval-type workout, so students can choose various activities based on their own personal goals.

“You could do jumping jacks, jump rope, mountain climbers, push-ups or squat jumps,” she said. “You can do tabatas for running, too. It’s intense for a short amount of time and then you’re done.”

The appeal of these tabata workouts for students, Knox said, is their efficiency.

“The benefit of tabatas is that they’re short and fast, and they get your heart rate up and down,” Knox said. “Interval workouts are good for people who are short on time. You can fit a whole workout into 20 minutes, or cut it down even more. You can design it for what you need.”

Chance Berndt, senior in marketing, said although he often feels the pressure associated with finding time to get active, he manages to find exercises that work for both his schedule and his physical health.

“You can’t beat burpees (a full body exercise with basic movements performed in four steps),” Berndt said. “If you do them correctly, they’ll leave you gasping for air and your entire body burns. They burn a lot of calories in just a little time.”

Berndt added that he likes to add pushups, pullups and squat jumps when doing burpees to give him a quick, total-body workout.

Students can also take advantage of the campus environment by stepping outside to jog around the block or running up and down a staircase for additional cardio.

As far as finding the motivation for these quick-but-effective tricks, Berndt said that while he can relate to those who are struggling to make fitness work, students need to keep the big picture in mind.

“I am the typical college student who was active in sports in high school and noticed a definite drop in physical shape when the bad habits I began to develop in college took hold,” he said. “But I’m determined to be in good physical shape for what I’m told are ‘the best years of my life.’ Exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon or maxing out on the squat rack, but it’s important if you’re wanting to enhance the quality of your life.”