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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To The Defeated Nursing Major, You'll Rise

You'll rise because every single day that you slip on your navy blue scrubs and fling your pretty little stethoscope around your neck, the little girl that you once were with the dream of saving lives someday will be silently nudging you to keep going.

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You will have weeks when you are defeated. Some mornings you won't be able to get out of bed and some days you won't be able to stop crying enough to go to class. You'll feel like nobody understands the stress that you are under, and you have absolutely nobody to talk to because they either don't get it or are dealing with their own meltdowns. There will be weeks that you want to change your major and give up on the whole thing. But, you'll rise.

You will miss football games, concerts, and nights out with the girls. There will be stretches of two or more weeks you'll go without seeing your mom, and months where you have to cancel on your best friend 4+ times because you have too much studying to do. There will be times where no amount of "I'm sorry" can make it up to your little brother when you miss his big football game or your grandparents when you haven't seen them in months. But, you'll rise.

You will have patients who tell you how little they respect nurses and that you won't be able to please no matter how hard you try. You will have professors who seem like their goal is to break you, especially on your bad days. You will encounter doctors who make you feel like the most insignificant person on the planet. You will leave class some days, put your head against your steering wheel and cry until it seems like there's nothing left to cry out. But, you'll rise.

You will fail tests that you studied so hard for, and you will wing some tests because you worked too late the night before. You will watch some of the smartest people you've ever known fail out because they simply aren't good test takers. You will watch helplessly as your best friend falls apart because of a bad test grade and know that there is absolutely nothing you can do for her. There will be weeks that you just can't crack a smile no matter how hard you try. But, you'll rise.

You'll rise because you have to — because you've spent entirely too much money and effort to give up that easily. You'll rise because you don't want to let your family down. You'll rise because you're too far in to stop now. You'll rise because the only other option is failing, and we all know that nurses do not give up.

You'll rise because you remember how badly you wanted this, just 3 years ago as you were graduating high school, with your whole world ahead of you. You'll rise because you know there are people that would do anything to be in your position.

You'll rise because you'll have one patient during your darkest week that'll change everything— that'll hug you and remind you exactly why you're doing this, why this is the only thing you can picture yourself doing for the rest of your life.

You'll rise because every single day that you slip on your navy blue scrubs and fling your pretty little stethoscope around your neck, the little girl that you once were with the dream of saving lives someday will be silently nudging you to keep going.

You'll rise because you have compassion, you are selfless, and you are strong. You'll rise because even during the darkest weeks, you have the constant reminder that you will be changing the world someday.

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Sticking to your Fit Plan

Looking to get in shape in the new year?

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If you're looking to get in shape during the new year, you're not alone. Sales are at their highest at any of your local gyms, they'll always be packed due to everyone longing to stick to their New Year's Resolution.

If you're reading this article, it probably means you fear losing track and quitting.

First things first, you have to remember to find something you enjoy doing. If you dread going to the gym every day, you're most likely going to stop going. You won't commit to something that makes you sad, anxious, or the slightest bit uncomfortable. It's not realistic.

You also need to think of going to the gym, (or whatever your desired exercise may be) as becoming a lifestyle. Do not wear yourself out going to the gym 7 days a week. Your body will not appreciate you! We only get one. Treat it like a temple.

Use SMART goal setting in order to stick to your perceived plan. Having a specific goal in mind, having a way to measure the goal, setting an achievable goal realistically, and putting a time deadline on it, will make you work harder. Tell those around you what you're aiming for! Keep yourself accountable. That is such a crucial part of starting a fitness journey.

Lastly, start off small. If you set these high expectations, you're going to end up being disappointed in yourself. Do what you can. Here's your reminder that everyone starts somewhere! It's okay to fail; it's okay to skip. Cut yourself some slack, but find the balance between slack and self-discipline.

With only around 7 months of consistent hard work, my whole life changed. Though going to the gym was more of a lifestyle adaptation rather than just a new year's resolution, I feel amazing. I couldn't thank myself enough for getting myself into the gym to release the endorphins, feel good about my body, and reach new goals. Nonetheless, if you have a specified goal in mind, you're more likely to achieve it.

Cheers to being active!

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