5 Seated Exercises for Study Breaks

Busy schedules can lead to less time being active, but these exercises will help you tone and strengthen muscles without visiting the gym.

By Jessica Schuster | March 24, 2014

While it’s hard to fit a workout in everyday getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended.

Maintaining your grades, social life, job and sleep can become daunting, which makes going to the gym fall even lower on your list of priorities. However, getting even a little bit of physical activity can help your boost mood and your energy level to inspire increased memory retention, better study time and a lower caffeine budget.

So why not use class time or that moment in the study room when you stare off into space and exercise while? These five exercises, while simple, can be extremely effective, helping you achieve that model body, and at the very least keep you awake during class.

Believe it or not, working on your abs doesn’t require lying on the ground doing horrible crunches.

1. Calf Raises

While seated, plant your feet firmly on the ground. Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the ground. Try to control this movement by raising and lowering your heels slowly; this will make the exercise more effective. Continue this movement for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat as needed.

Benefit: This exercise strengthens your calf muscles, and helps recirculate blood through your veins, which will help prevent blood clots as well as swollen ankles and feet. Your legs might be pale after winter, but they can still look muscular, making that last-minute sprint to class much easier.

2. Water Bottle Curls

Pick up that water bottle sitting on your desk, and hold it horizontally in either hand parallel to your thigh. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your back is flat against the back of your seat. Raise the water bottle up to your shoulder and then return your arm to its starting position. Continue this movement for 30 seconds, and then switch arms. Repeat the exercise.

As needed, continue to repeat this exercise changing arms every 30 seconds.

Benefit: Water bottle curls tone your biceps, forearms and wrists giving you arms that look fab with no flab. Hello, tank top season!

3. Contracting and Releasing Abs

Believe it or not, working on your abs doesn’t require lying on the ground doing horrible crunches. While you’re sitting up straight on the edge of your chair, contract your ab muscles, holding for about 10 seconds and then releasing. Repeat as many times as you’d like.

For a challenge, hold the squeeze as long as you possibly can and then release. The longer you hold this movement, the stronger your abs will be. We recommend doing this to some music or with the rhythm of your reading – hold for a paragraph!

Benefit: This exercise will give you abs of steel, and in turn, help your posture and keep you feeling svelte all year long!

4. Alphabet Outlines

Sit up straight at the edge of your chair and get ready to work your legs. Lift one of your legs so that only your toe is touching the floor, and leave your other foot flat on the ground.

With only your toes, outline each letter of the alphabet while squeezing all of your leg muscles. These small, controlled movements will do wonders for your leg muscles.

Then repeat the exercise with your heel touching the ground instead of your toe. If your leg can handle more, perform this exercise another time before switching legs. Continue to repeat as you see fit.

Benefit: Your legs will thank you for doing these, which might lead you to start a new short shorts trend. They also help blood recirculate during long periods of sitting.

5. Glute Squeeze

One of the easiest, and least obvious exercises, is the glute squeeze. Simply contract and release your butt muscles, while sitting. Do these for one minute, stop for a short while, and then continue if needed.

To make this simple exercise a bit more challenging, hold each squeeze for five to 10 seconds more.

Benefit: This exercise will strengthen your glutes, and best of all, no one will know you’re doing it.

While not every classroom layout will be conducive to all of these exercises, there are at least two options on this list that you can do without anyone knowing or you can do them while you’re studying in the privacy of your room!

Quick Tips

  • While it’s hard to fit a workout in everyday getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended by the Mayo Clinic. Studies also show that regular exercise can improve memory and increase brain function.
  • Strengthening exercises like the ones listed above can help increase your metabolism, leading to an overall healthier body weight.
  • If you concentrate on the muscles you’re exercising, you’ll start to see significant results sooner. But remember to concentrate on your studying, too!

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