Why Students Should Stay Active During the School Year

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Chicago Daily Herald


Why should college students be physically active throughout the school year? The answer is relatively simple. There's research that proves that if college students partake in let's say about 60 minutes of activity per day, they will achieve higher test scores than if they didn't. This is a win-win scenario because of the fact you are gaining higher test scores while also getting physically fit. In a 2012 article published by American InterContinental University, the author states "Exercise Increases Focus and Concentration. In 2009, a Canadian school for learning-disabled and ADHD children took part in an experiment that involved having students exercise for 20 minutes… we noted a marked improvement in students' ability to concentrate, participate, and retain information…". This is especially important to college students because there are many times where you have to go to lecture or a discussion section, and depending on how your day has been or what happened the night before, your ability to focus and participate may be negatively affected. The ability to retain a large amount of information, accurately, every single day of the week is a huge skill to have, and being physically active influences individuals to have a higher sense of that ability.

As the semester starts to intensify, college students tend to get stressed and that leads to an overconsumption of calories. According to a diet.com study, "When students first enter college, their diets often deteriorate and they often gain weight… The term "freshman 15" refers to the number of pounds many students gain during their first year in college. The weight gain is related to stress…" Participating in activities such as Intramural sports, cardio or weightlifting can be helpful for multiple reason. One, this causes the extra consumed calories to be burned which can further prevent weight gain, but rather it helps offset the bad dieting. Two, doing things that are fun for the individual, and also burns calories is a good way of relieving stress for some people. Three, it promotes one's eating patterns to be more consistent with how you're supposed to be eating; an individual wants to ideally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Typically, you should be eating three small to normal sized meals a day, but most students eating habits start declining due to their extreme workload and class schedules. This lifestyle sways students to eat one big meal late at night before going to bed, which isn't good for your stomach/digestive system. However, daily exercise can eliminate this issue because any form of movement increases your heart rate. When your heart rate increases, you start sweating which in turn boosts one's metabolism. When one's metabolism increases it causes one's body to convert the food and liquid that's consumed into energy. This means that throughout the school day, you'll be more compelled to eat meals before the end of the night where you realize you're hungry. The digestive system works slower when you're sleeping, so a lot of the calories you intake end up turning into fat.

Enough talking about the macro but now we'll discuss the micro. A key component about one's health that's often swept under the rug is brain cognition. The brain is one of the most, if not THE most, important organ in a human's body. It's crucial for a college student as well, since this is what we rely on the most throughout the day. A study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia found evidence that suggest exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day "facilities information processing and memory functions." It's obvious why this is beneficial for anyone. Have you ever had those days in class where the Professor asks the class a question about something you had just read the other night, but for some reason you can't recall it for the life of you? That's called a memory lapse. The most common memory lapse that directly affects college students the most is called the "Struggling for retrieval" memory lapse. An example of this is when you were just introduced to someone, and shortly thereafter you can't remember their name. Or you saw an engaging film and then the next day when you tell your friends to go see it, you forgot the title. To greatly reduce the chance of having these on a consistent, day to day basis, all it takes is 20 minutes a day of exercising.

Now, I understand that there are those who might be reading this and they're currently thinking in their heads right now "I don't have time to exercise at all during the week. Look at me I'm fine" or, "Just because I'm not physically active no a daily basis doesn't mean I'm not healthy". To those people I say this. You're right. Not everyone's body is the same. Maybe you are the exception, someone who can neglect physical activity and still be a top student. But, I would also say whether you're aware or not, you're physically active every day. There are forms of exercise that every college student does daily that they might not be aware. Walking to and from class everyday of the week is a form of exercise that is overlooked by many people. Also, walking up and down stairs is another aerobic exercise that gets brushed off. Whether you're aware of it or not, everyone participates in some form of exercise daily.

The last thing that I'll say about this is that overall, being physically active improves one health in so many different areas that you may not even be privy to, so there's really no reason not to be. There's just so many benefits to be considered that it really should make you want to make a lifestyle change once hearing all the things it could potentially do for you. Personally, I slacked a little first semester. I got caught in the trap of adjusting to this new life, one where you're free and no one's forcing you to go to class, or do last nights homework. In the midst of it all I forgot about the one thing I used to do daily, and that's being physically active. Exercise can be ones rise to greatness or one's Achilles heel in this post-secondary education world all of us are now in. For me, It's something I choose to do because it makes me happy, and makes me feel better about myself when I wake up in the morning. For those who happen to stumble upon this paper, I want you to ask yourself "What is the main problem I'm dealing with right now and can it be dealt with by being physically active?" Most likely the answer is yes, so then my question to you is, What are you waiting for?

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April 24, 2017


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