Does Exercise Really Matter?
Exercise is good for both body and mind. Indeed, physical activity is almost essential for good health and student success. Many people exercise to maintain or lose weight, but weight loss is only one potential benefit of exercise. Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, strengthen your bones, increase your energy levels, and reduce your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, n.d.).
The physical benefits of regular exercise include the following:
- Improved fitness for the whole body, not just the muscles
- Greater cardiovascular fitness and reduced disease risk
- Increased physical endurance
- Stronger immune system, providing more resistance to disease
- Lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease
- Lowered risk of developing diabetes
- Weight maintenance or loss
Perhaps more important to students are the mental and psychological benefits as identified by the Canadian Mental Health Association (LaRocque, 2021).
- Stress reduction
- Improved mood, with less anxiety and depression
- Improved ability to focus mentally
- Better sleep
- Feeling better about oneself
For all of these reasons, it’s important for college students to regularly exercise or engage in physical activity. Like good nutrition and getting enough sleep, exercise is a key habit that contributes to overall wellness that promotes college success.
Fitting in Exercise
Most important, find a type of exercise or activity that you enjoy—or else you won’t stick with it. This can be as simple and easy as a brisk walk or slow jog through a park or across campus. Swimming is excellent exercise, but so is dancing. Think about what you like to do and explore activities that provide exercise while you’re having fun.
You may stay more motivated using exercise equipment or tracking your progress with an app on your phone. Think back to Chapter 3 where you were setting some goals. Do you have any current fitness goals or would you like to start one now?
The biggest obstacle to getting enough exercise, many students say, is a lack of time. Actually, we all have the time, if we manage it well. Build exercise into your weekly schedule on selected days. Eventually you’ll find that regular exercise actually saves you time because you’re sleeping better and concentrating better. Time you used to fritter away is now used for activity that provides many benefits.
Colleges have resources to make exercise easier and more enjoyable for our students. Take a look around and think about what you might enjoy. Campus fitness centres may offer exercise equipment. There may be regularly scheduled aerobic or spin classes. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy casual sports such as playing tennis or shooting hoops with a friend. If you like more organized team sports, try intramural sports.
Even walking across campus regularly with friends may be the first step you need to getting your body moving.
“8 Successful students take control of their health” from A Guide for Successful Students by Irene Stewart and Aaron Maisonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.