Temperatures dipping into the negative 20s. Streets covered in ice, snow, and grey slush. Gyms closed. In Montreal, getting exercise is more challenging now than in warmer—and not to mention pre-pandemic—times. Even when considering indoor workouts, many students struggle with a lack of space and equipment, the presence of roommates, and stressful, busy schedules. Nevertheless, regular exercise is incredibly important as it improves mental and physical health, which can help with students’ academic performances and can also lead to the release of endorphins, which decrease the perception of pain.
Although exercise options may be limited because students are stuck indoors for most—if not all—of the day, it’s possible to still stay active. A survey that concluded in 2021 revealed that the start of the pandemic triggered the growth of home fitness app downloads by 46 per cent globally. From the comfort of home, or even in small shared spaces, there are always creative ways to reach your daily exercise goals.
- Shadow boxing
One type of workout to try is shadow boxing, a type of cardio. Specifically, it is a martial art training method and endurance workout that involves punching the air. While it may feel unnatural to some, shadow boxing is a great full-body workout, and helps improve coordination, physique, and posture. Also, there is no need for punching bags, boxing gloves or headgear!
- Apartment-friendly cardio
Apartment-friendly cardio is not limited to boxing. Such types of exercises are great if you need to be mindful of neighbours, roommates, or family members. There are short-but-effective online workouts, like Zumba classes, that are fun and make people happy. Cardio is a beneficial form of exercise known for improving brain and joint health, promoting REM sleep, and increasing circulation, which helps to clear skin, aid digestion, and combat depression, all without the necessity of purchasing equipment.
- Yoga and pilates
Other types of popular indoor workouts include yoga and pilates. Both workouts aid stress management and relaxation, which can be beneficial for university students during a difficult semester. Yoga and pilates also help improve physical coordination, balance, and flexibility. While it may be helpful to invest in a yoga or pilates mat for comfort purposes, they are not necessary for completing the exercises.
- Strength training
Strength training is another type of indoor workout that is a great way to keep bones strong and healthy, boost your metabolism, and reduce the risk of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Though strength training traditionally involves more equipment, calisthenics is one form that utilizes only your body mass; this type of workout can include exercises like jump squats, pushups, crunches, and plank.
- High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT, is another popular indoor training to try, as there are many HIIT videos to follow that are short and sweet––perfect for university students to use in between online classes. While they don’t take much time to complete, this kind of exercise increases metabolic rate for hours even after completion.
- Taking a walk
Last but not least, though it may be cold, slippery, and slushy, going outside and getting fresh air is still incredibly important for mental and physical health. Some benefits of going on walks include improved cardiovascular fitness, moods, cognition, memory, and sleep, as well as increased energy levels and stronger immune systems––take that, COVID! Walks can also help to reduce stress and tension. If you prefer your outdoor venture to be a bit more intense, try running at a slow pace that feels comfortable to you; this way, you won’t begin to see the exercise as a grueling task to avoid and will more likely stick to it in your fitness routine.