When we think of the health benefits of exercise, we typically think first of its impact on physical health, such as heart disease prevention, reduced risk of osteoporosis and diabetes, and weight control. But did you know that exercise is also good for your mental health? Aerobic activity combats depression, stress and anxiety because it causes the release of endorphins, brain chemicals which reduce pain and increase euphoria. Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training are excellent anger management tools, permitting the expression of pent-up energy through physical release. Exercise also promotes deeper and better regulated sleep, which can improve your concentration, productivity and mood (just make sure you stop exercising a few hours before bedtime, so your system isn’t revved up when you want it to wind down). And last, but certainly not least, exercise has been shown to improve self esteem. We feel a sense of accomplishment when we make progress towards our goals in a fitness program.
We also develop greater body confidence as we learn to look at our bodies for what they can do instead of just what they look like.
How can a busy college student fit exercise into his or her week? For one, if you haven’t already done so, check out the University’s John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center on the corner of Culver & West Side Avenues. Use of this terrific facility is FREE to currently enrolled NJCU students. Before, after, or in-between classes, take advantage of the indoor jogging track, the pool, the racquetball courts, the weight machines, or the exercise equipment. Another option: during down time, get together with some buddies for some intramural fun! Team activities include flag football, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, water polo, and dodge ball - for more information about these and other recreational sports, contact intramural coordinator Sergio Villamizar at 201-200-2170. A third option: earn college credit while keeping mentally and physically fit! Each semester the Athletics Department offers classes that get your body moving. And last, but not least – hit the dance floor! Whether you go out clubbing on weekends or sign up for a weekly class, high energy dancing is a great way to get your heart pumping and your muscles active.