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Exercise tips & tricks

For every reason there is to exercise, you can probably think of a reason why you shouldn’t. Maybe you’re too busy or you don’t have the motivation? Well check out these helpful tips to overcome any obstacle between you and staying physically fit. 


If you have trouble staying motivated…

Try working out with friends, switching up your workout routine, adding music, or prepping ahead of time to set yourself up for success.

Find a buddy:

When someone else is relying on you to show up, you’ll be much more likely to make the effort to work out. Plus, working out with a friend can be a great way to make fitness more fun.

Play a sport:

One way to get some exercise is to make it a game. Play a sport. Join an intramural team or just get some friends together to play pickup games.

Try something new:

Sticking to one type of workout can slow your results and get boring fast. When you switch things up at the gym, you’ll see improvement and avoid a fitness plateau.

Check out the Student Recreation Center:

Along with traditional methods of exercise like cardio and weight training, University Recreation also provides fitness classes, outdoor adventures, climbing, and many other ways to stay fit in a fun way.

Turn up the tunes:

Your playlist should fuel your workout and your drive. Upbeat music can inspire you to get to the gym and help you work out harder.

Start your day with exercise:

You’re less likely to make excuses when you get it done before something else can get in your way.

Pencil in your workouts:

Schedule going to the gym into your life. If it’s on your calendar, in your phone, or on your computer, it’s easier to stick to your plan.

Lay out your gear ahead of time:

Get your exercise gear ready to go the night before. You won’t have to rush around to find thing the next day and you’ll be less likely to skip the workout altogether.

If you’re short on time…                                                

Find small ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. You could:


Try a shorter workout:

If you’re strapped for time, even squeezing in a 15-minute workout can help you stay fit and on track.


Walk to class:

While taking public transportation might be quicker, walking will give you a chance to stretch your legs, burn some calories, and relax before your next class. The Palouse hills are a good workout any day.


Ride your bike:

Instead of taking the bus or driving to class, try biking instead. It will give you a few minutes of exercise between your classes. If you don’t have a bike, check out the Green Bike program for access to free bikes all over campus.


Use TV time for short exercises:

Do some simple stretches while you watch TV or use commercial breaks for mini workouts. Try push-ups, sit-ups, and planks in between shows. It might not seem like much, but it’ll add up after an hour or two of your favorite shows.

If you don’t have exercise equipment…

You don’t need special equipment or a gym membership to get some exercise. Try one of these ideas:


If the weather is nice, go outside and enjoy the scenery around you while you exercise. If you have a flight of stairs, go up and down them a few times. If you don’t have stairs, just walk around the house a few times.

Jumping Jacks:

They are fun and they are great cardio exercises.


These build arm strength and work out muscles in your chest area. If they are difficult for you, try them them on your knees instead of keeping your legs straight.

Leg lifts:

These are great for building up strength and muscles in your legs. If you find it hard to do the exercises with your legs straight, try bending them slightly.


The best exercise for building up and strengthening abdominal muscles.

Jogging in place:

Jogging is a great exercise for your heart. You can jog in place at home while watching TV or listening to music. The only equipment you will require is a good pair of shoes, to eliminate any stress to your legs.


These are great for your legs and buttocks. If you’re finding standard squats difficult, try a modified version by sitting and standing up again from a regular chair.

Light weight lifting:

Use whatever you can find in your house, like textbooks or canned foods. Start light and work your way up to heavier items like milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.


Dancing is great exercise and can lift your spirits and give you an overall boost.

If you’re concerned about injury…

Take precautions not to overexert yourself. Make sure you:


Rest easy:

Your body needs time to recover in order to stay on track. Schedule in rest days like you schedule your workouts.


Stretch it out:

Help yourself avoid injuries by stretching each time you exercise. Simple stretches before and after you work out or engage in physical activity can help keep you active and pain free.

If you hit a plateau or want more diversity…

Try varying the type of exercise you do. Each type has different benefits, and mixing it up can make your workout more exciting. The four types of exercise are:

Aerobic (Endurance):

Aerobic exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and are the main component of overall fitness programs. They keep the circulatory system and lungs healthy, can stave off diabetes and heart disease and help you build up endurance. Some common aerobic activities include:

  1. A brisk walk
  2. Jogging
  3. Climbing the stairs
  4. Playing tennis
  5. Dancing
  6. Biking
  7. Doing yard work like raking, digging and gardening
  8. Swimming laps


Though not part of the CDC’s official recommendations for maintaining good physical health, flexibility exercises can keep your body limber and help you maintain a wide range of motion. This is important because range of motion is often limited by things like arthritis. Here are some ways to improve your flexibility:

  1. Stretching various parts of the body
  2. Doing yoga


Strength exercises are important for keeping your bones and muscles strong and helping older adults maintain their independence. Strength training is beneficial in reducing falls and helping you do everyday activities that require lifting, such as carrying groceries, some examples of strength training include:

  1. Lifting free weights
  2. Using resistance machines at the gym
  3. Using resistance bands to leverage your own body weight in building strength


Practicing and improving balance is important for older adults because it can strengthen the body’s core and help prevent falls. Here are some good balance exercises:

  1. Heel-to-toe walking
  2. Standing on one foot
  3. Practicing tai chi poses

If you want to track your progress…


Consider taking some baseline physical measurements when you start a new fitness program and re-measure periodically so you can track your progress. What you measure will vary based on your exercise goals, but some common measurements include:

  • Resting heart rate
  • Time to run/walk one mile
  • Maximum number of consecutive pull-ups
  • Maximum number of consecutive pushups
  • Maximum number of consecutive crunches
  • Maximum vertical jump
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Body mass index
  • Waist circumference