College students and exercise go together like peanut butter and anthrax. While you may set a lofty goal every other quarter to try and make it out to the gym, chances are you’ve been slightly less successful in this endeavor than you had intended. It’s no wonder that this demographic is so famous for packing on pounds, either: a full class load plus work leaves many students to exhuasted to eat even a relatively healthy meal, let alone make it out to the gym.

Luckily, here’s a way to get some exercise in while sitting at your desk doing homework. While you may not be getting a robust workout, doctors do recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week, and according to physiologists, the effects of some quick cardio exercises and stretches will accumulate even when sitting, just as long as you’re getting in your target heart-rate zone. The effects are quite noticable, as sitting for too long will lead to cramping and tension. While you should definitely try and get up and do some quick aerobics every so often, here’s how to relieve tension and get a quick work out from the comfort of your desk chair.

Neck

Always avoid rolling your neck around in a circle, as this can cause exessive cramping. Instead, stretch your neck forwards and backwards and then look right to left to lessen tension in the neck muscles. Additionally, tilt your head left and right while pressing down on the opposite ear to fully extend the muscles. Also try turning your neck to the left while twisting your torso to the right, hold position for 10 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Arms and Shoulders

Roll your shoulders forward 10 times, then roll them backwards. While not much of a cardio exercise, this stretch will do wonders for those who hunch forward when sitting or store stress in their neck and shoulders.

For arms, grip your hands together behind your back and lean forward while raising your arms as high as you can behind you to stretch the upper arm. Also try using an elastic band while in this position to increase tension by pulling your arms away from each other. This may also be done from above your head to work the muscles in your inner-arm.

Wrists

One of the biggest risks of typing in front of a computer all day is the development of carpal tunnel. To prevent this, roll your wrists clockwise and counter-clockwise 10 times every hour or so.

Chest

Similar to the reason behind the above shoulder exercises, hunching over a desk can cause major pain in the upper torso. A great way of countering this problem is to extend your arms outward while turning your hands so that your fingers point straight up and your palms face up. Then, push your chest forward while pulling your shoulders backwards. This is another great exercise to use with an elastic arm stretcher to help increase the resistance.

Calves

Lift your feet so your weight is centered on the ball of your foot, and repeat until your legs are tired. Repeat every hour or so to prevent your legs from cramping.

Of course, since it’s difficult to break a sweat while sitting, it’s good to stand up every hour or so to do a few sit-ups, jumping jacks, push-ups and standing knee raises. While this can be tricky while studying in a library, at least give yourself a break to just walk-around. While this may not replace an exhuastive work-out at the gym, it’s a great supplement and can do wonders in preventing the pain that comes from hours spent sitting down.