Fitness Tips for the Student Body
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Academic success is most often associated with mental workouts, but regular physical activity can boost academic productivity too, according to a Smith College professor of exercise and sport studies.
For 21 years, Barbara Brehm-Curtis has been teaching Smith undergraduates about nutrition and health, healthy behavior and stress management.
“The immediate benefits of exercise are important to the overall college experience," said Brehm-Curtis. "And, students entering college have a great opportunity to develop healthy habits that will remain with them throughout their lifetimes.”
Seven reasons to work out in college according to Brehm-Curtis:
Exercise helps reduce stress
Stress is the ultimate distraction and the most common reason that students do not do well in their classes. Obviously, exercise will not make problems go away, but a good workout helps alleviate anxiety and ward off depression that can become part of the stress package.
Exercise helps you sleep better
Late-night study sessions and too many cups of coffee will only leave you feeling wired when it’s finally time to sleep. Throw in a few noisy roommates and you have a problem. Begin exercising regularly so that you will feel tired, and don’t fight your body when it urges you to sleep.
Exercise helps strengthen your immune system
Residing with, taking classes with and dining with new people increase your exposure to germs. You must do all you can to stay healthy. Adequate sleep, stress management, good nutrition and regular exercise help keep your immune system in good shape. But do not exercise when you are sick. You are better off resting and not spreading your germs around the fitness center.
Exercise helps prevent weight gain
Dodge the proverbial “freshman 15.” The inactivity of hours spent sitting in class along with the food choices you make in the cafeteria and late at night often result in unwanted weight gain. Don’t let it. Exercise, drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Exercise helps you quit smoking
The aerobic capacity needed to work out suffers from smoking. If you are a smoker trying to quit, exercise can help you get through the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of weight gain sometimes associated with quitting.
Exercise helps you meet people
Take a physical education class for credit or look for non-credit alternatives. Join a team or just go to the gym regularly. By doing so, you will likely meet some students who share your schedule. Activities that involve exercise also allow you to expand your social circle beyond those with whom you share a class or living quarters.
Exercise helps you get to class
You have a beautiful campus and your college does not want you to bring a car to school. Bring your bike instead. Bike or walk to class, the library, dinner and off-campus venues. Once you arrive at your destination, take the stairs. Walking everywhere enables you to bump into friends and faculty you would miss if you were in a car.
The Exercise and Sport Studies Department at Smith offers performance and exercise-related courses, a minor and a graduate program with a primary emphasis on training coaches of women’s teams.
Smith is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,600 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.
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