Try Exercising Your Stress Into Submission
By Erin Maguire
It is an average, spring afternoon at Marymount Manhattan College. Midterms have almost passed, and students are preparing for spring break. However, around this college, and countless others throughout the country, there is a harried atmosphere of frenzy. This is commonplace for college, and according to a recent study at UCLA, 30 percent of freshmen surveyed reported feeling stressed and "frequently overwhelmed" by everything they have to do.
So what's to be done when midterms, school loans, and papers are all weighing on the mind? Exercise. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle can be the best stress relieving tool out there. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC), living a healthy lifestyle can be one of the biggest ways to battle stress, "your overall level of health also affects stress reactions to various situations.
Someone who is always feeling overwhelmed, eats poorly, and doesn't get enough sleep (a description of many students) usually has a limited ability to cope with stressful events. You need to pay attention to your own well-being. The right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation is crucial."
Additionally, according to the article, “How Exercise Helps Reduce Stress” published on Article Alley, when a person is stressed there are certain chemical reactions that occur in the body preparing it for the fight or flight response.
This response was important during our days as prehistoric caveman when animal attacks were more prevalent, but now, modern man doesn't have to face a saber toothed tiger on a daily basis, and because of this response we are left with a surplus of negative emotions and adrenaline. This is where exercise comes in; exercise can be an important outlet for these pent up feelings of stress, including worrying, anxiety, depression and irritability. Regular exercise manages this fight or flight response and helps restore the body to equilibrium.
Moreover, another leading causes of stress according to UFCC, is "general unhappiness and a sense of aimlessness or lack of purpose often....people sometimes wind up making choices and living life styles that really don't fit them." Exercising regularly increases endorphins, which are the body's 'feel good' chemicals. Runners will often refer to this phenomenon as runners high.
Exercising can provide immediate relief for feelings of unhappiness and can also provide long term happiness by leading to better self esteem. When a person regularly exercises, they know they are moving towards a better, healthier body, and results are visible which can give a person a sense of direction because they know they are working towards something.
So, where can students exercise? Anywhere. Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive. If not interested in joining a gym, students can purchase home work out DVDs, take brisk walks, go jogging, or even join a recreational sports team. Some great picks for Marymount students? Crunch Fitness is located on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue and has amenities such as fun classes, a steam room/sauna, boxing ring and weight studios. Some other local options are Equinox, and Focus on Fitness that have special Marymount student rates.