Unless you are involved in some form of sports or other regular physical activity, the hectic pace of classes, assignments and other activities can push out finding time to get to the gym or maintaining a regular exercise regimen. This is especially true if you were used to compulsory PE classes in school and find yourself in college no longer forced to go through hateful forms of group torture.
Like many students in school, I didn’t really have a preferred form of exercise, I didn’t play any sports (not well anyway), and I only did the bare minimum in school sports activities, especially in the final years of school. I went to college and didn’t realize that if I didn’t schedule some physical activities, they just wouldn’t happen. I had danced in high school, but my skill level seemed amateurish compared to the competitive college dance clubs, and I never really joined any of them. I tried doing ad-hoc things - going swimming or jogging a few times a week, and walked around campus a lot, which provided a basic level of exercise. But not having got into the habit of scheduling exercise, I would let it fall off my radar whenever I got busy.
I had even less time for exercise during my Masters’ program, and even though I signed up for the gym, I only went for short durations, and that too not very often. It was only much later that I realized how important a regular exercise regimen is, not just for physical fitness, but for your overall mental health as well.
Exercise helps you release endorphins, which contribute to your feeling of well-being. College (and even high school) can be pretty stressful, and if you don’t have a way to release that stress, it can build up, at the very least affecting your ability to study. Regular exercise keeps stress levels at a manageable level, helping you to feel much more in control of your life. Even something basic like a walk makes all the difference.
Exercising is also a great way to take more breaks, and we often get our best insights while stepping away from what we are working on, and doing something completely different. In fact, recent research shows that when you are stuck, and looking for inspiration, exercise can help to unleash your creativity.
Studies also show that moderate to high intensive exercise, even a few times a week, helps increase cognitive abilities, especially for those who were previously inactive. Exercising, along with making you feel better, releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which repairs memory neurons and also resets certain processes, helping to clear the clutter from your mind as it were.
In other words, you are literally getting smarter while you work out, creating more connections and improving your memory.
This is an edited excerpt from my book "Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades". It makes the perfect back-to-school purchase or gift. Click here to buy this book from your preferred retailer: books2read.com/anyonecangetana