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Nutrition and Dietetics research: Benefits of exercise for college students

By: Lauryn Hinckley

Regular exercise promotes healthy lifestyle choices for adults, especially college students, but an adequate amount of exercise comes with a plethora of benefits that many adults are missing out on. Exercise comes from the Latin word “exercere,” which means to be busy. As college students at Concordia, everyone has a hefty amount of homework, which means that students are busy expanding their knowledge. Sometimes students do not have time for anything else, but homework for hours on end. Also, most Cobbers tend to be very involved in activities such as clubs, sports, and music. Consequently, free time is limited. Therefore, the recommended amount of physical activity gets pushed aside. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)recommendations for exercise, are most often not being met, especially by college students. One study done across colleges in the United States found that 30-50% of college students are not meeting the minimum recommendations for physical activity (Keating, Guan, Piñero & Bridges, 2005). In one study, typical college men were found to exercise on average about four times per week for approximately sixty one minutes. College women were found to exercise three times per week for an average of thirty one minutes (Buckworth & Nigg, 2004). The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, three days of muscle resistance training, and two days of stretching.

Why should college students care about physical activity when there are many other activities like participating in knitting club, sorority events, or even gaming club? Students, especially college students, should care about exercise because of all the benefits associated with exercise. Actually, when students exercise, they tend to have better retention of information from class. Also, students who exercise tend to be more effective and manage their time doing homework better than those who do not (Bugg, DeLosh & McDaniel, 2008). There are so many that students can enjoy, but many college students simply do not make time to receive the benefits associated with exercise (Buckworth & Nigg, 2004). College is filled with busy times, but students should prioritize their wellness over other extracurricular activities because of all the benefits, physical and psychological.

Not only does an exerciser look great, but they feel great about themselves. Exercise increases positive body image, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and productivity, but it also reduces stress (Greterman, 2018). College students, especially Cobbers, need to reduce stress by positive means. Exercising releases hormones that directly reduce stress. Then, exercise also can increase mood for up to 1 hour after exercising. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Furthermore, why wouldn’t a Cobber want to have an influx of endorphins to make them fit the stereotype of a “happy Cobber” even more?

Likewise, exercise has more benefits than just making someone feel happier for a short period of time. Exercise furthermore increases memory, which can aid students in retaining more information for exams. Cobbers who can retain more information without needing to study more are even happier Cobbers. Also, this aids in making studying for finals easier. Additionally, motivation then increases. Because motivation increases, attention spans continue to increase (Greterman, 2018). This means that students no longer have to spend inefficient and ineffective hours in the library, but rather spend a more intensely focused study session in the library. This makes studying more effective, especially for finals. Then, exercise makes speaking even easier. The rate and clarity at which someone speaks then increases. When Cobbers need to take Oral Communications, exercise will come in as a beneficial tool for this core class.

What can someone do to see these benefits? Students do not need to spend hours at the gym to recieve benefits of exercise, but rather the benefits of exercise are effective in as little as ten minute increments, three times per day. Beginners at Concordia can start by choosing to take a quick ten minute walk around Knutson while sipping on coffee from the Coffee Stop with friends. Walking is a great starting point for a student who wants to be active, but does not know what to do. Also, students can bike, do yoga, go to a fitness class on Tuesday nights, and making time to do a quick workout on the balcony. Students should try to get to the recommended amount of physical activity set by ACSM. However, students who cannot meet these recommendations just need to start.

Exercise is something that anyone can do in small increments. Exercising has so many benefits that all college students should take advantage of. Students no longer have to worry about their weight, memory, speech, inefficient studying, and negative body image. Students can study better, manage their weight, have better speech, study more effectively, and feel better about themselves. Students, especially Cobbers, should really take advantage of all the benefits of exercise. Exercising isn’t only for athletes, it’s important for everyone! And the benefits are there to prove it.

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