By Sarah Wright
1. Stress Reduction
If you've had a rough day, a good workout can be a great way to ease the tension. Exercise has known stress-relieving effects on the human brain, but if science isn't enough to convince you, consider it from a practical standpoint. Sweating it out on a cardio machine or doing some challenging weight lifting requires you to focus your attention on what you are doing in the moment. You have to pay attention to how you're exercising to make sure you're doing it right and not potentially injuring yourself. This will help you literally take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, ultimately relieving some of the stress you might feel after a long day of class.
2. Mood Boost
In addition to reducing stress, exercise is also proven to help improve your mood. If depression or anxiety is getting in the way of your school work and social life, consider adding a workout to your daily routine. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones that are proven to boost happiness. Beyond that, the sense of accomplishment you'll feel after a good workout will also help you feel better about yourself.
3. Stay on Track
After finishing a long day of class, it can seem extremely tempting to forget about doing any homework or studying for the rest of the day. If you've been in class for most of the day, the lure of relaxing distractions like TV, video games and the Internet can be difficult to resist, especially in the face of more work that needs to be done. But fun distractions like those can end up being a black hole of amusement, cutting down on the amount of time you could be spending doing something more useful.
Going to the gym instead of plopping down on the couch can help keep you on track to be productive and responsible for the rest of the day. It'll provide you with a break in your day that has a definite end point - you're not going to want to stay on the treadmill for four hours the way you might if you start playing a video game. Plus, you can watch TV or listen to a favorite podcast in the gym while you're working out.
It can be difficult to stay healthy in college. If you're worried about the 'freshman 15' (which has been known to plague sophomores, juniors and seniors as well), hit the gym. Allowing yourself to go down the slippery slope of unhealthy living can be depressing and hard to reverse. Better to nip it in the bud by making the gym part of your routine. And if physical health isn't really a concern, keep the mental health benefits of exercise in mind.
Having a fixed schedule that you stick to during school days can be a great way to keep yourself on top of assignments and studying. Scheduling gym time into your school days is a great way to develop a healthy schedule that focuses on doing the responsible thing on a day-to-day basis. Making workouts a part of your regular schedule will also help you stay more conscientious about going to the gym - something that can be helpful to those who often choose a less-healthy option for their down time.
If you absolutely refuse to work out, there are some other steps you can take to maintain sanity during your college years.