How to work up a sweat without hitting the gym

Nov. 18, 2016, 9:32 a.m.

In the land of bountiful kale, Dish hikes and red backpack-clad Division 1 athletes, Stanford students can feel an understandable pressure to stay in shape. But if I’ve learned anything in the year and eight weeks that I’ve spent on the Farm, it’s that there are plenty of ways to get your heart pounding and your sweat glands perspiring that don’t even require a pair of sneakers. From the minor heart attack of accidentally clicking “Reply All” to the sudden realization that all of your dirty clothes just spent the night in the washing machine, elevated heart rates don’t have to occur within one of the several variations of “Arrillaga Center” that seem to exist here.

Whether it’s from unavoidable physical exertion or unexpected emotional trauma, here are some tried and true tricks for breaking a sweat with no effort at all:

  1. Keep yourself a few minutes behind schedule. They call it “running late” for a reason, and whether you’re biking, skateboarding or ambling along on foot, the process of getting to class can be as stressful as you choose to make it. Although some might call this stress “unnecessary” or “self-destructive,” why not view tardiness as a quick morning warm-up that you can’t skip?
  2. Carry a full backpack at all times. Hardback textbooks and a laptop are the most effective here, with the targeted muscles being somewhere in the shoulders or back.
  3. Forget about a major assignment until the day it’s due. A pounding pulse and clammy palms are sure to kick start this involuntary emotional exercise.
  4. Watch a psychological thriller. Often, the most potent scary movies are the ones most similar to your own life. So consider skipping the traditional cabin-in-the-middle-of-nowhere films and opt instead for one that takes place in college for some truly accelerated palpitations within the chest.
  5. Wear too many layers. Living in California is not a demand to survive solely in shorts and flip-flops. Sometimes a parka and sweat pants are all you need to turn an ordinary sunny day into a productive period of perspiration.
  6. Figure out that your heater is broken and don’t bother getting it fixed. Saunas are lauded all over the world for helping the body to rid itself of toxins, and many fitness facilities actively advertise this amenity. But why spend time and money gaining access to this detoxifying delight when you can create your own? If you come home to discover that your heater just won’t turn off, leave it alone and let the bad vibes of midterm season flow right out with your sweat.
  7. Avoid putting air in the tires of your bike. Not only will you start pedaling harder for even the gentlest of slopes, but deflated bike tires will also force you to reflect on what’s really slowing you down: the bike or too much Late Night? This question alone can make your heart beat faster.
  8. Live at least one flight of stairs above the ground. Bonus points for doing this without an elevator in the building.
  9. Realize that you’ve lost your phone/ID/lucky socks/essential item. Panic sweat. Enough said.
  10. Turn on the news. In 2016, I can’t think of anything that will make your heart race more quickly than seeing what’s going on around the world.


Contact Georgina Grant at gagrant ‘at’

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