15 ways for lazy students to get fit for free
From the classic to the... not so classic, we bring you 15 of the best and free-est ways to keep those unwanted pounds at bay.
Whether it's the lycra section of your wardrobe or the visibility of your six pack, chances are something sporty in your life has been positively influenced by the Olympics of London 2012. We've never felt more patriotic - but after two weeks of watching the world's best athletes we've also never felt less in shape.
But, hey, we're students. We can't afford to go galavanting off to buy a new road bike or 'invest' in a gym membership we'll never use. What we need is to get fit... for free. Well, they don't call us the best student website in the world ever for nothing.
Have you visited the world's first ever online Freshers' Fair yet (all years)? It has loads of freebies and discounts and it’s free to get in.
1. Run fat boy, run
An old-fashioned, fairly common-sense but definitely underrated way to shed that jäger-bomb belly, running is one of the best - and certainly the most free - ways you can get fit - and fast (a few sessions and you'll catch yourself noticeably less out of breath). Better still, it's a well-known way to de-stress, great for a good think or perfect for blocking out thoughts when combined with the fool-proof power of an iPod. Try the NHS 'Couch to 5K' scheme for starters and you'll be overtaking Mo Farah by the time we get to Rio 2016.
2. Make a splash
Aha, you thought you'd got me. Because, while swimming SEEMS free, it very often isn't. Many unis do offer free use of the swimming pool, but equally many don't, and so a solution is required. This comes in the form of outdoor swimming - swimming in fresh- or saltwater. If you're near the sea you should need no excuse to take a dip (skinny or otherwise) and if not, visit Wild Swimming or River Swimming to find lakes and rivers near you. Converts swear by it, and the cold water will help you burn calories faster.
3. Tea-towel tournament
You know that time your flatmate managed to hit you unimaginably hard on the back of the legs with only a tea towel? That, my friend, is the ancient art of tea towel whipping - the twirling of a tea towel to form a weapon, and the lashing of it whip-style against the nearest person. Get said flatmate to teach you and you have a Tea Towel Tournament - a brilliant mix of running away, chasing, twirling, bicep-working and downright hilarity to get the blood flowing.
4. Go shopping
New academic year, new hotties in the library, new wardrobe. That's just mathematics. But that whizz round the shops could have benefits for more than just your fashion sense: a good half day of traipsing through Topman/shop means a good half day of constant walking. Add the weight of several shopping bags and voila! A free fitness booster.
5. Have sex
I hate to be crude about it, but if you want to burn some calories, get your heart rate up, and work muscles you didn't even know you had, one of the best solutions is the good old fashioned round of intercourse. Burning a whopping 288 calories per hour and toning just about every muscle you own, sex is one of the best, and - let's not lie - most enjoyable ways to get fit for free. Beats 20 minutes on the treadmill.
6. Pillow fight
Whether post-coital or just post-alcohol, a pillow fight is a fun, hilarious and free way to exercise. Perhaps best to gauge the situation according to who's on/in your bed: group of friends watching a movie? Yes. Really hot 'study buddy' two dates in? Er, maybe not.
7. Hardcore hoovering
Ever heard of extreme ironing? Well ironing isn't the only household chore to be given a revamp - invite your parents to visit your charming student abode at very short notice (preferably only a matter of hours in advance) and hoovering suddenly becomes hardcore hoovering as you panic-clean before their arrival. In fact, any housework is a great workout - upping your heart rate and getting the blood pumping while being productive at the same time. Win win.
8. Get set, GO!
A good way to get fit? Race. EVERYWHERE. To the supermarket, to the bus stop, to the library. You'll look like idiots which will work your stomach muscles as you die of laughter (and will persuade you to run faster to shorten the embarrassment), and research proves that sprints are one of the best ways to get fit. On your marks....
9. Would you like tone with that fitness?
So, whilst you're running around and hoovering your heart out whilst carrying 8 pairs of new shoes, your heart is working itself into a complete frenzy - perfect for this fitness lark. What isn't necessarily happening, however, is the toning of certain muscle groups, like the abs and derrière. And we all like a toned derrière. Solution? Whether in a traffic jam on the bus to campus or waiting around in a nightclub queue, try clenching and releasing certain muscles, such as le gluteus maximus.
10. Books and beans
Scenario 1: You've done a mammoth session in the library, coming home with about 28 volumes of in-depth analysis on Mao's China. And you've realised your module's on Pol Pot. Scenario 2: You've done a mammoth Tesco run and come back with their entire stock of baked beans... Only to realise they're the no salt no sugar tins, and, obviously, no-one eats them. We've all been there, maybe with both. But never fear! You have yourself your very own (and basically free) set of weights! 100 reps if you please, and goodbye bingo wings.
11. The bedroom boogie
Dancing is one of the most effective ways to improve fitness: just look at the success of so-called Zumba classes. However, us students are the last people to have enough money lying around to splash out on looking like idiots in front of lots of other, sweaty people. Even if we did want to. A far better way to reap the same benefits is to whack your iPod on, choose a good playlist and adopt the bedroom boogie. Please note head-banging is not optional.
12. Home yoga
Yoga is the ultimate way to improve anaerobic fitness (ooer, long words) and firm up your figure, but classes often cost up to £10 a throw. Instead, try it from the comfort of your own home - either rein in a friend who knows their stuff, or simply download a free lesson from multiple Internet yogis. Personal favourite is Tara Stiles: subscribe at iTunes for free videos galore, with everything from morning wake-up routines to de-stress stretches. Namaste.
13. Fruit throwing (featuring danger fruit)
As a student, chances are your consumption of fruit would make Jamie Oliver choke on his chicken nuggets, but that's not to say there's never a few apples knocking around from someone's mum. Put them to good use with some pulse-raising games of catch, or, better still, pick a practically rotten orange or soft fruit and get involved with a game of Danger Fruit. The aim is in the name: there's fruit, and it's dangerous: chuck it as hard as you can at each other until it bursts. Yum.
14. Air guitar championships
Whether or not you integrate this into your bedroom boogie is up to you, but thrive on your competitive streak and burn calories aplenty with a group game of the Air Guitar Championships. The more you thrash around and the more rounds you include, the fitter you'll get.
15. Household Obstacle Course
Probably one you'll want to run by your flatmates, but the transformation of your living room/halls corridor/bedroom into an epic obstacle course can be a brilliant way to add fitness-increasing challenges to your everyday bumblings about the house. Even if you're only walking to the sofa, your fitness will no doubt benefit from a hop, a skip, and a jump along the way.
Get discounts and freebies at The National Online Freshers' Fair - all years (Domino's, Urban Outfitters, Warehouse, Greggs...and masses more!)