The Top 5 Reasons to Exercise as a Student
You probably already have been told that exercising keeps you healthy. However, if you’re a student, you are probably very busy already. You may find it hard to make time for exercise. Maybe you have some negative habits that compete for your time. Or perhaps you already exercise regularly, which is great! In any case, I’ll explain why exercising is in your best interest. I’ll also show how it boosts your productivity, grades and test scores. Here are the top five reasons to exercise as a student.
#1: Fight Depression and Anxiety
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety affect 1/5 of students, dragging down their productivity. Students with depression may have a hard time getting motivated to study, or sticking with tasks once they’ve begun. Depression slows down your brain activity, which makes your studying sessions less effective. Research has found that one of the best solutions is exercise! Exercise is as effective as antidepressants for depression, as long as it’s not severe. It releases dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals which make you feel relaxed and positive.
Exercise can also lessen the effects of anxiety. Anxiety leads to a heightened stress and cortisol level, which decreases productivity. Just walking for just 10 minutes can give hours of relief to students with anxiety disorder.
Many people with mental health issues may be aware of the reasons to exercise. Still, they find it hard to actually do it regularly. If you’re in this situation, just remember: any activity that gets your body moving and elevates your heart rate is good for you. Also, you can get accountable by finding a fitness partner to exercise with.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that you exercise at least 2.5 hours per week at a moderate level. Habits take time to build, but eventually, you will reflexively exercise. I go to the gym three days a week most weeks just out of habit.
#2: Get a Brainpower and Energy Boost
After a workout, you can study more effectively. When you exercise, the hippocampus is stimulated, which leads to improvements in learning and memory. Also, exercise raises your blood pressure and blood flow rate. This increases nutrient dispersal and waste removal throughout your body. Many studies validate this result. However, those benefits from exercise go away two days after exercising. To get these benefits on a regular basis, you need to exercise on a regular basis. Personally, I often feel a greater sense of mental clarity after I workout.
Plus, exercise fights fatigue, so you can study for longer periods. Exercise even beats stimulant medications like Ritalin for increasing energy and reducing fatigue, according to that study. To get energy, sometimes you have to put some in. Reasons to exercise regularly includes this fatigue-fighting effect so you can cut down on your sugar and caffeine intake.
#3: Build up your Immune System
No one likes to get sick. Consequently, not getting sick is one of the top reasons to exercise I can think of. If you want to be healthy all the time, you can exercise to strengthen your immune system. A study referenced here points out how exercise reduces inflammation. Participants worked out for 20 minutes at a moderate level, then were measured for an inflammatory marker called TNF. It had decreased by 5%. Inflammatory markers link to disease-inducing and health-reducing effects.
That same study demonstrated that secretion of stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine lessened during exercise. Afterwards, they returned to baseline. This effect adds up over time. Also, exercise pushes bacteria out of airways and lungs. This can lessen the chances of getting sick. Additionally, exercise increases body temperature, which can fight infections. It does this by making growth conditions inhospitable for some bacteria.
The time you put in exercising pays back big dividends in the time you save from being sick. Because I exercise regularly, I haven’t been too sick to study in years. When I do get sick, I experience more mild symptoms.
#4: Grow your Brain
Mental growth is one of the biggest reasons to exercise that doesn’t always get talked about. Exercise triggers neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells! A study showed that exercise increased the production of a protein called FNDC5. FNDC5 induces production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This helps to grow new synapses and nerves and keeps existing brain cells in top shape. This activity is centered in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory. The new cells that exercise generates are actually stronger and faster than the old cells.
Also, exercise increases gliogenesis (generation of support cells that connect neurons together). Gliogenesis from exercise boosts efficiency and processing speed in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex determines attention, decision making and personality. An enhanced prefrontal cortex means that you will be less distracted and more focused. Also, you’ll be quicker at making decisions and more cheerful when studying.
#5: Skyrocket your Creativity
School sometimes involves a creative interpretation of some data. For example, you may need to come up with an original thesis, or present your science fair project. In general, creativity improves brain function and makes you happier. This study shows that people who knitted felt happier after knitting. Knitting is only one instance of a creative activity. This study applies even if you’re a musician, writer, actor, dancer or whatever.
What if creativity itself could be improved? Exercise seems to be one possible way to do that. This study demonstrated that people who exercised regularly did better on tests of creativity than people who didn’t. Specifically, exercise seems to be associated with improved problem solving skills. People who exercise find more solutions to problems.
When I compare my creative output before and after regular exercising, the difference jumps out at me. I produced a soundtrack and wrote several pieces of fiction while regularly exercising. While not regularly exercising, I played video games and watched TV.
After reading this article, your reasons to not exercise might seem shallow. Great! You can go the gym, go running, swimming, walking-anything, really. If you put stress on your lower body, make sure you add quality insoles to your shoes to minimize injury.
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