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Health — June 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm

5 Benefits of Regular Exercise for College Students

The four years you’ll spend at college will make up some of the most exciting times of your life. You’re in for huge growth and development, learning at a pace that you might never match and an explosion of new friends, some of whom you might keep close for decades after graduation. But as great as it can be, it’s also quite easy to get sucked into your busy schedule and forget about exercise. This is something you should fight against. Most universities offer you easy access to free exercise, with gym memberships and club sports programs all free for students. You’ve got to take advantage if you want to stay balanced. Here are five benefits of regular exercise for college students.

First and foremost, regular exercise will help you avoid the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen”. It’s quite common for students to gain weight while transitioning from life at home to life in the dorms. You’ve got all that time spent sitting in class, while studying and in the dorm room every evening, and with a busy social life exercise is often one of the things that falls to the side. But with the heavy meals available in the campus cafeterias and the heavy drinking that most college experiences are filled with, you’ll quickly pack on the pounds if you don’t exercise regularly.

Exercise will also help keep you from getting sick. When someone in the dorm goes down with the flu, it can spread like wildfire. Late nights and poor nutrition don’t help anything either. Regular exercise has been shown to boost your immune system, and exercise can often force a slight illness to move through your body quickly. This will help stop a couple days worth of sniffles from turning into weeks in bed.

It can be tough to get consistent sleep while away at school. Everyone around you is on a different schedule, and your best friend might even have a day off when you’ve got four back to back classes. There’s always something cool happening, and you’ll tend to want to take advantage. There’s nothing wrong with that, except when you’re so riled up that you can’t get a good night’s sleep. The constant coffee that pairs with your studying doesn’t help, either. With exercise later in the day, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep, and to avoid getting up in the middle of the night.

You might not understand the science behind it, but regular exercise can actually improve your grades. It’s a simple formula. When you go through a cardiovascular workout, you are improving the circulation of blood through your body. Better circulation means more oxygen is reaching your brain. That fresh, oxygenated blood helps you think clearly and solve problems. So if you want to get good grades, physical exercise is just as important as mental exercise.

Finally, know you can lean on exercise to help manage stress. Perhaps you’re heading into finals, while still trying to get in applications for those masters in pharmacy informatics programs. How do you balance it all? It can be quite difficult to get your mind to shut off at the end of the day, and stress has been tied to a wide range of illnesses and negative side effects. Instead of blowing off stream with a night of binge drinking, try going for a run instead. The endorphin rush you’ll get from this work should help you relax when you need to most.

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