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The Importance of Exercise for College Students

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Liz is a licensed veterinary medical technologist with an interest in zoonotic diseases, comparative medicine, and One Health.

Are you a busy college student that is tired of being self-conscious about your weight? Are you becoming increasingly lazy as your college career goes on? This is a very common problem amongst college students. Between balancing classes, a job (or multiple jobs), and social life, exercising, eating right, and keeping yourself in shape can be difficult. This is largely due to lack of motivation after attending to life's day-to-day tasks. Frankly, exercising often just seems like too much to ask after a busy day. Thankfully, there are steps to combat this, and help keep you in shape!

Exercising with friends is a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Exercising with friends is a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Cardiovascular Disease and Inactivity

Cardiovascular disease, the United States' leading cause of death, is caused primarily by inactivity. Inactivity decreases blood flow, resulting in clogged arteries and veins. Excess fat, which is also caused by inactivity, also leads to a higher incidence of heart failure.

Many of today's college students are often not as healthy as they think. According to many recent surveys, high school seniors are often in better physical condition than college students are. In general, college students are on the threshold of continuous activity level drops.

Activity level changes in college students have been found to be correlated with the changes in students' lifestyles that occur between high school and college. Most students feel that they “don’t have time." Many have given up the sports they played in high school. Some may not exercise due to a lack of a peer group to exercise with. And most of all, many just lack the motivation to exercise.

Inactivity in a person's young adult life now increases the likelihood of inactivity later. By being active now, young adults get themselves out of a rut of inactivity and are more likely to be active later in life. Like the saying goes, "a body in motion tends to stay in motion."

Going for a run in the local park is an excellent way for college students to get exercise, fresh air, and away from studying for a while.

Going for a run in the local park is an excellent way for college students to get exercise, fresh air, and away from studying for a while.

Benefits and Solutions

There are many invaluable benefits to exercising. Over time, increasing exercise will condition your body to need less sleep. If you need less sleep and are more well rested, you will have clearer thoughts and have less difficulty focusing in class. Exercise also boosts your immune system, and improves your cardiac strength. Not to mention the fact that the more you exercise, over time, the more you will like how your body looks.

So we know that exercise prevents/reduces the risk of cardiac disease, heart attacks, and many other health disorders that result from lack of activity, both now and later in life. Still lacking the motivation? Get a gym membership, or gather a group of friends and have all of you commit to exercising at least 3 times a week. You can go to your campus gym, or simply go for a jog in the park. Peers engaging in similar activities together usually offer great support and motivation to each other in reaching exercise goals. Yoga classes are another great option for college students, as it is also great for reducing stress levels. Another option is to download a fitness app on your phone; many apps allow you to create a fitness goal, and encourage you to keep at your goal by counting steps, reminding you to exercise, counting calories, etc. Other options include taking a health or fitness class at your college, if such courses are offered.

Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for college students, as it is great for reducing stress.

Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for college students, as it is great for reducing stress.

Now What?

No one wants to feel "fat," die earlier of a heart attack, or live with health issues that could’ve easily been prevented. College students should all get into the habit of regular exercise while they are still young so that they can make their future health more rewarding. Why wait? Start today!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Liz Hardin

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