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Opinion

Exercise makes better students

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October 13, 2006

I had a humbling experience a few weeks ago in PE 108. Members of the class were told to engage in 10 minutes of aerobic exercise. I jumped on one of the ellipticals and began fake running down the sandy shores of Bermuda, but it didn’t turn out to be as refreshing as the Caribbean coastline. After 10 minutes, I could barely walk. My heart was purring like a coke head after snorting a few lines, and I was sweating more profusely than a biology major taking a Brit lit final. It was the first time I’ve ever had to admit to something I thought would never happen — I’m out of shape because I rarely exercise.

Within the last school year, many UW-River Falls students have had poor academic performance as a result of physiological and psychological conditions. According to the UW-RF Student Health Services student survey in 2006, 31 percent of UW-RF students felt stressed, 24 percent had difficulty sleeping and 17 percent had feelings of anxiety or depression. Less than half of all respondents reported they had gotten enough sleep to feel rested within all seven days prior to taking the survey. Given students’ hectic schedules at work or in school, these results aren’t surprising. If exercising hasn’t made its way to the top of your priority list, there is a good chance you suffer from fatigue, insomnia, stress, anxiety or poor eating habits.

Interestingly, these conditions are all related to exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site and CraigHospital.org, exercise has been proven to relieve stressful and anxious feelings, improve energy and cut down on fatigue. Even more obvious is how exercise benefits sleeping habits. The body is able to better regulate its sleeping patterns. People who exercise fall asleep quicker, have deeper sleep and wake up feeling energized more often than people who don’t exercise. Ditch the Ambien and NoDoz, and strap on those jogging shoes instead. Sure, easier said than done.

I hate gyms and weight rooms. The weight room on campus has a nauseating stench, the music is terrible,
and I can barely work my way around the gigantic egos possessed by some of those iPod-toting, cutoff shirt-wearing tools who are only in there to get huge pecs so they will have a chance of getting laid on spring break. So I’m trying to work on some ways to raise my heart rate without raising my anger level.

Drop your books and head to the Library. Let it be widely known I am not advocating anyone frequent the Library. Somehow that smoke-infested hell hole has become a popular place to end a night on the town. (I heard a rumor that you can get crabs by sitting on the pool tables). But if you consume just the right number of drinks, the dance floor isn’t a bad place to get exercise and shake your ass at some coeds. Granted, all that smoke inhalation won’t have the greatest effect on your lungs, but there aren’t many public places you can reach your target heart rate while reaching for someone’s tonsils.

Running up the stairs or jogging at crosswalks is something I’ve discovered too. Aside from the weird looks I get, it isn’t a bad way to get the ticker going. If you’ve taken PE 108 and had the unflattering experience of nearly keeling over with a massive coronary, you have probably thought once or twice about getting more exercise. The most difficult part of adopting a healthy lifestyle change like exercising is taking action. The benefits of exercise are almost immediate: refreshing nights of sleep, clearer thought process, less stress and anxiety, more energy during the day, and more stamina in the sack, among others. Once you make the effort to exercise regularly, you’ll realize how easy and enjoyable it is — like a walk in the park.

Ben Jipson is a student at UW-River Falls.