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Exercise

Exercise can help improve your mood, give you energy, and even extend your life span. If exercise could be made into a pill, it would become a multi-million dollar industry because it has such significant benefit in almost all areas of health, including mental health.  Luckily, this wonder drug is accessible to all on a sliding scale from free on up. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.  If you already have a regular exercise routine, read on and congratulate yourself for engaging in such potent prevention.  If you find exercise a challenge, perhaps this page will help inspire you and offer strategies for starting and sticking with an exercise practice.

Benefits

Exercise improves mood: Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed, providing an emotional lift and reducing stress.  Exercise gives everyone a boost, and can be especially helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Exercise boosts energy:  Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength, boost your endurance, deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.  When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy for your daily activities.

Exercise promotes better sleep: If you have difficulty sleeping, regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.  Try to exercise earlier in the day so you have a couple of hours before bed to wind down.

Exercise adds spark to your sex life:  Exercise leaves you energized, in a better mood, and feeling better about your body, all of which may have a positive effect on your sex life.  In addition, regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women, and prevent erectile dysfunction in men.

Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and body image: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss by burning calories and ramping up your metabolism.  You may also feel better about your appearance, which can boost self- confidence.

Exercise prevents and combats diseases: In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Tips to Motivate and Maintain

Make it fun: It’s essential to find ways to enjoy exercise and make it fit into your lifestyle.  Check out what the athletics program has to offer.  If team sports aren’t for you, think about taking a P.E. class,  joining a student group related to exercise, or taking walks in the wildlife sanctuary.

Mix it up: It’s great to engage in a variety of activities so that you are working out different muscle groups.  It also helps keep you interested and engaged.  Who knows, you may end up discovering something you really love!

Make it social: Finding a workout partner can help you stay committed, since it’s harder to cancel on someone other than yourself.  It can also make exercise more fun, and you’re multi-tasking by getting social time in at the same time.

Making time:  It can be challenging to find time in your busy schedule to exercise.  Keep in mind that any activity is better than none.  If you can’t schedule a 40-minute workout, keep in mind that ten-minute walks between activities add up.  You may find that getting out of bed a half hour earlier to exercise will give you an energy boost that makes up for hitting the snooze button a couple more times. 

Make a commitment:  Scheduling a time on your calendar, taking a class, or making a date with a friend can give you enough extra motivation to stick with it.  It can also be helpful to set specific goals for yourself. 

Don’t overdo it:  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, and eat something before a workout to give your muscles the fuel they need.  Take it slowly, especially when you’re getting started so you don’t strain muscles.  Exercising too much can overtax your system, especially if you’re not getting adequate nutrition.

Sources

The Mayo Clinic