Exercise Is Beneficial For College Students

Exercise Is Beneficial For College Students

Exercise? I thought you said extra fries.

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As I've grown up, I've noticed that the more I exercise, my head is clearer and the more productive I am. But I've never understood exactly why this happens. If you have this same question, you've come to the right place!


When you start exercising after being sedentary for a while, your body goes into fight or flight mode. As a result of this, your body releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This protein acts as a "band-aid" for your neurotransmitters that control learning and memory. While creating new neurons in your brain (called neurogenesis), it increases the efficiency of your neurotransmitters to send signals to other parts of your brain. Your pituitary gland also releases endorphins, which is what everyone talks about as the chemicals that make you happy (as well as serotonin). But did you know that endorphins also act as a painkiller?

The reason for this is that endorphins block the release of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for sending pain signals to your brain that your body responds to. The idea of endorphins as painkillers has been around since the Vietnam War. During this time, soldiers would start getting addicted to drugs in order to reduce stress before, during, and after combat. However, the question is do endorphins themselves reduce pain, or do they just allow the effects of serotonin and dopamine to be more apparent?

My point in saying all of this science stuff is that exercise is extremely beneficial for college students because as we grow and learn, our brains need to adapt and grow along with us. The protein BDNF that is released during exercise is directly related to learning and memory, which can help you memorize for a test, and connect ideas together to make a bigger picture.

Exercise along with prescribed anti-depressants can actually speed up and increase the release of BDNF in the brain, which has shown to produce immediate results in treating depression and anxiety. 1 in 5 college students say that they're affected with anxiety and depression and that these mental issues are the top reasons that they receive or seek counseling.

Running is not the only form of exercise that you can do though! My biggest piece of advice to young students is to find a form of exercise that you really enjoy, like dancing or swimming. I personally really like bike riding and dancing! Finding something that you enjoy will not only make exercise not only more fun, but it will help you stay consistent with your exercise routine. In order to release more endorphins, you need to exercise more. And if you need more motivation to run (which I know I do), here's a helpful tip:

Here are some extra resources to help you get started!

1. If you need a place to workout at UIUC, look no further!

CRCE

If you are a student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there are two amazing places you can go to workout: CRCE (shown above) and the ARC! Both have amazing facilities like pools, treadmills, a track, and even cooking classes!

2. Having role models/motivators in your health and fitness journey is one of the most important things I've learned. 

Cambria

If you are spiritual like me, and are just starting your health journey, check out this amazing Youtuber and blogger named Cambria Joy! She is geared towards females, but whoever you are, she gives amazing advice and tips on how to start a healthy lifestyle (that includes diet and exercise).

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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If You're A Runner, Don't Be Discouraged, Sometimes Running Progress Isn't Linear

I've been running for six years and although I was faster when I started, I'm still going strong.

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When I began running as a hobby in 2013, it was for no reason other than start participating in runDisney races and earn some really amazing medals. It wasn't for any awesome reason like weight loss, self-improvement, or specific time goals in mind. I was also always the kid in gym class who hated running the mile, so I figured any effort on my part to become a runner would be impressive. I'm not sure how people wake up one day and decide to become a runner. It's not a fun hobby (at least during), but post-run endorphins are definitely real. Regardless, I've somehow been running off and on for 6 years now.

Despite my calling it out as not a fun hobby, it's extremely rewarding and never takes more than it gives. Running has given me so much and I'd recommend it as a hobby for anyone. We all start from somewhere, but it's also important to know that you shouldn't begin thinking that you're going to improve if you do it often. That's how most things work. We've all heard practice makes perfect, but so many things can happen on your running journey. Runners can get faster or run longer distances with consistent training, but it's never a guarantee.

In my personal experience, I was significantly faster when I first became a runner. I was a newbie, but I was using the Couch25K program, which is for beginners. It is meant to guide you to run a 5k without any walk breaks. All of my personal bests occurred within my first year or two of running. I could easily get discouraged about this and give up the hobby altogether, but I'm still happy. I acknowledge that my weight is now more than it was back in the day, that I've been through injuries, and that I prefer to run with run/walk intervals. All of these things may make me slower, but not any less determined or appreciative that my body can still cover the distance.

I've had my ups and downs, just like many runners. I've had countless friends who had to start from ground zero after time off for surgeries or injury. I think the most important thing for all of us to remember is that we're only racing ourselves and we're winning against our former self as long as we get off the couch. I know how important it is for some runners to focus on a time or pace goal and continually be building on that. My favorite part of running is how subjective success is. Someone's worst finish time in a race ever may be someone else's biggest goal. Someone may think a 10K is the shortest distance while someone else dreams of completing 6 miles. Some of us are crazy and want to do a half marathon in each state. Me. That's my type of crazy I'm talking about.

I continue running despite not having the guarantee of improving on my average mile pace. Nothing is unattainable, so there's no guarantee that my best days can't be surpassed in the future. Some days it feels like my running progress has gone completely backward, but then I remember everything I've gained in 6 years. I've gained more running friends than I can count. I've collected race memories in various states. I've proven to myself time and again how strong I am, even if I think I'm not. I have significantly more race medals than I'm currently able to display in my home. Most importantly, I've gained a level of self-esteem and good health that I couldn't have otherwise. Go for a run. Then go again.

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