How Exercise Reduces Stress

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Elio Mouhanna
Member since March 28, 2016
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  • Age 21

Midterms are coming up and you have other assignments to worry about. You cannot seem to manage your time, so you start panicking. How will you handle academic stress without failing? Why not take a quick trip to the gym to perform better at university?

When students transition from school to university, stress multiplies dramatically. An article posted in the blog section of Odyssey, an educational website, states that students expect excellence from themselves. They want to be at the top of their classes, graduate with honors and become active members on campus, all at once.

Dealing with academic stress can affect a student’s physical health and mental well-being. In a leaflet found under the ‘advice and support’ section of the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, poor nutrition, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of concentration cause students to panic over exams.

So what is an effective way of coping with stress? Going to the gym and exercising. It is important for university students to consider exercising as a way of handling pressure to live healthier and have more productive academic performance.

“Everyone goes through stress, and challenging yourself with a bit of exercise can help you go through your studies,” said Christiane Mikhael, a physiotherapist working at the Lebanese Army Hospital in Sarba, north of Beirut. “Exercise acts as a push that can make you do anything.”

Many health care experts recommend exercise as an essential technique for energizing mental fitness. According to a study in the consumer’s section of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website (ADAA), students relieve their brains from pressure through physical exhaustion, boosting alertness and upgrading cognitive function. This will improve their concentration and participation in classes.

As you exercise, your brain produces neurochemicals called endorphins, which make you feel ecstatic. You will be surprised that running on a treadmill or kickboxing can create the same feeling.

Elie Saade, a personal trainer at Mike Sport and Body Energy Gym in Beirut said, “Your body and morale are down whenever you’re stressed. Endorphins give your body a positive feeling that help you feel at ease. In fact, these chemicals work like analgesics that diminish the perception of pain.”

Did you know that relaxation is another way to exercise? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a website which features articles and studies about psychological well-being, tension increases as mental stress tightens muscles and increases heart rates.Slow breathing exercises can help release the pressures. It can be done through naps, yoga, or simple inhaling or exhaling mindfully and repeatedly.

As students rest, they build energy by pumping blood into their muscles, Saade added. Resting leads to sharper minds and relaxed nerves.

If you do not know which exercising technique to begin with, then go for aerobics. Scientists see aerobics as the most vital method to decrease academic anxiety, according to the ADAA study from 2008. Aerobics decrease tension levels, uplift anxiety, improve sleep patterns and encourage self-esteem. Even the first ten minutes of an aerobics session can lessen pressure, the study claims.

Too lazy to do aerobics? Try other techniques that satisfy you more. A SurveyMonkey questionnaire of 17 university students showed that:

• Around 48.86 percent favored jogging.• Around 24.71 percent chose everyday sports such as football, parkour and walking.• The rest chose nonphysical activities, such as music, reading and writing.

“It all depends on people’s thoughts on how to get fit,” said Mikhael, the physiotherapist. “They may prefer Zumba over aerobics. You can’t force everyone to do the same thing. Maybe you like something else. It all depends on how you can get the stress out in your own way.”

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