If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word cardio it sends shivers down your spine. While some people enjoy running and even prefer it to other types of exercise, I can’t say I relate. Although it is a simple exercise that almost anyone can do, I’m sure some will agree that it’s not their go to. Obviously we know we should be staying in shape and exercising every day, as there are hundreds of studies out there that prove just how beneficial exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is for our health. However, the time when most people typically see the largest drop in their level of physical activity is in college, often because they experience drastic environmental changes and schedule changes.
First of all, engaging in regular physical activity helps lower one’s probability of developing chronic diseases. A 2001 study showed that regular exercise helped improve the health of those with high blood pressure and reduced the risk of developing the disease in people with normal blood pressure (Whelton et al.). A person’s susceptibility to chronic diseases increases with age and depends not only on their lifestyle in old age, but especially on their lifestyle when they are young. That means staying in shape now will benefit you not only at this point in your life, but way down the road as well.
Second, getting good aerobic exercise can help mental illness. A study in 2001 tested the effects of physical activity on patients with depression. The study showed that participating in walking on a treadmill and interval training saw great improvement in their perceived mood and scored better on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (Dimeo et al.). Being a college student comes with many stresses that can affect a wide range of mental illnesses. Getting at least a little bit of exercise is a way to release endorphins and serotonin, or “happy hormones,” which improve mood and relieve stress; it’s also a good way to take a study break!
Getting regular exercise is also a key for good memory retention. As we age, our brain volume decreases and our memory retention slowly declines. In 2010, scientists found that engaging in regular aerobic exercise increases the mass of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory (Kirk et al.). That means exercising can actually help you improve your grades by improving your memory!
As you can see, aerobic exercise is the key to reaping all of these health benefits and there are many more ways to get that exercise in besides going on a run. Concordia’s campus has many opportunities to get in aerobic exercise without even knowing it. There are intramural sports such as dodgeball and volleyball, or clubs you can join such as ultimate frisbee. Concordia’s balcony also provides the community with equipment to use almost any time of the day.
If you want to get off campus (and some of these are way off campus), the Fargo-Moorhead area has plenty of opportunities to get active. Facilities such as Planet Fitness, Crossfit, and Courts Plus provide equipment, fitness and yoga classes, personal training, and recreational sports. For college students, it can sometimes be difficult to experience some of these community facilities while on a budget. However, some places like Skyzone, Sunset Lanes, etc. have events such as college nights to make getting out and getting exercise more fun and affordable! Another great way to get outside and get active is to take advantage of the bike share in the F/M area. There are plenty of bike trails to explore before winter really sets in!