While you may be taking your first few weeks of school to get acclimated with your new extensive course load and get familiar with your new college town, there’s one more area that you should make sure you’ve included on your exploration list—the campus gymnasium. This cannot be stressed enough: regular exercise is crucial to your college success. To learn how, continue reading below.
Helps Combat the “Freshmen 15”
The Freshmen 15 might sound like it’s just some kind of urban legend made up to prompt students to eat more greens, but it’s real—in fact, you can gain far more than 15 pounds if you don’t make the right lifestyle choices. This shouldn’t come to a complete surprise either: students significantly increase the number of times they eat out; cafeterias are really generous when it comes to portion sizes, beer-drinking becomes a popular activity-of-choice; and more students turn to empty calorie beverages like soda to help keep them awake. If dieting is not really your “thing” then at the very least exercising three to four times a week to counteract all of the bad eating choices and help you stay at a “steady” weight.
Helps Relieve Anxiety/Stress
College can be a very stressful experience, especially if you have a difficult professor. While some stress is natural, too much can be detrimental to your body. First of all, it can weaken your immune system. I know from firsthand experience getting sick in school is the absolute worst—missing only a single day can set you back for weeks. Not to mention getting sick on test days can significantly reduce your chances of performing your best because you’re weak and your head is cloudy. Too much stress can also contribute to emotional eating and additional weight gain which can cause you to develop body complex issues. But regular exercise can burn away stress-causing chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine to make sure that you manage your stress levels better. It can also help release “happy” chemicals like endorphins which can make you feel euphoric during times of uncertainty or doubt, which is common in college.
Keeps You Alert
Regular exercise can also ensure that you have ample amounts of “natural” energy—something you need during early mornings as late nights.
Boosts Brain Power
Last but certainly not least, exercising can help increase your cognitive thinking and analysis, which can really help you in your courses. That because exercise helps get more oxygen to your brain, and it helps with blood flow. Immediately after a workout blood rushes to your pre frontal cortex which scientists say is the best time for critical thinking. So if you want to get the most out of a study session try to do it following your workout.
– Mariana Ashley is a freelance education writer who covers both traditional and online schools. When she’s not writing, she can be found at the gym or planting roses in her garden. She welcomes your comments below.