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Once the school year starts, you’re pretty much wrapped in a never-ending whirlwind of chaos.  Classes, the reading for those classes, papers, projects, exams, etc. all keep you incredibly busy, and the free time you have for things you want to do for fun or for yourself, is limited.  Throughout the chaos you want to ensure that you remain healthy, whether it’s mentally or physically, and a positive thing that is part of any healthy lifestyle, is being active.  Therefore, you need to learn how to manage your time effectively in order to include exercise or some type of activity into your busy schedule, so you don’t lose your sanity during the academic year.

Research shows that exercising causes various mental health benefits.  First and foremost, exercise relieves stress, and stress is a well-known friend to most college students.  Working up a sweat can help alleviate stress and releases norepinephrine, which is a chemical in the brain that’s involved in your body’s way of coping with stress and tension.  Therefore, exercising can improve your ability to deal with stressful situations.  Furthermore, working out can boost your overall mood, which is why some doctors recommend exercise to those suffering from clinical depression and anxiety.  As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde taught us all, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy; happy people don’t just shoot their husbands…they just don’t.”  Exercising gives you a strong sense of accomplishment, and that happiness will improve your mood and self-confidence, so you won’t go around harming other people.  Exercise also increases relaxation, improves your memory, and can make you more productive and efficient in your work.  If you’ve been reading for a long time, studying, or working on a paper or project, you may feel like you want to hit the fetal position on the floor real quick.  Going outside for a walk or working out for just 30 minutes or so can do wonders for your brain and will help your mind reset.

Again, since exercising or simply being active has massive physical and mental health benefits, it’s important to figure out how to fit it into your busy college schedule.

Here are some simple ways you can achieve that.

  • Bike/walk to class, and take walking breaks throughout a long day of doing work.
  • -Workout in the morning before your classes.
  • -If you have a 45 minute to an hour break in the day, use that time to possibly do a circuit or interval workout.
running, run, walk

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These kinds of workouts are fast and effective, and studies show you get the same amount of benefits in a 30 minute interval workout as you do in running for an hour at a steady pace on the treadmill.  You can fit in a 20 or 30 minute interval workout and have time to take a fast shower before you go to class.  Or, you can do a longer workout and not shower before class (which I highly recommend.  No one will judge you, I promise).

Wear your workout clothes throughout the day if you plan on working out in the afternoon.

As the day drags on, it’s natural to lose more and more energy.  But, by having your workout clothes and shoes already on, it’ll be so much easier to just head straight for the gym and immediately start your workout.  If you have to go back to your room to change, you’ll probably just end up asleep on your bed.

Utilize your campus for your workout

If you’d rather workout outside or can’t make it to the gym, you can find a flight of stairs somewhere around your campus.  Running stairs is an intense workout, and you can add things to this activity to make it a little more interesting.  Instead of always running, you can hop up the stairs, alternate one-foot hops, do skaters up the stairs, and skip a step or two depending on their size.  In between each set of stairs, you can stop to do a different toning exercise like push-ups, lunges, squats, or crunches and other ab exercises, to turn it into a full-body workout.

If most people sit down and write out what they do during every hour in a day, they’ll find that they actually do have blocks of time where they’re available or are using the time ineffectively.  It’s important to make exercising a priority and find the time to do it, in order to receive the massive health and cognitive benefits it has to offer.

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