Exercising will benefit more than just the body

Do you find yourself noticing that as the semesters roll by, so do diet plans and workout schedules? Oftentimes it seems college helps people to tack on both knowledge and pounds. For me, I gained a solid 15 pounds during my very first semester of living at school. 

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

The cafeteria offered so many delicious and unhealthy choices, every club meeting offered free pizza and at Endicott College, where I had started college, you could order frozen yogurt that would be delivered straight to your dorm. The semester began hopeful — I ran one morning; I ate a salad — but it did not take long before my go-to was a box of Cheez-Its and delivery fro-yo.

My habits were being formed, and not for the better. As a result, my general outlook became dim and negative. Today, I am in the best shape of my entire life. I can run a mile quicker than I did in high school and I can hold a plank for however long my trainer asks. I no longer suffer from constant disappointment with my own body ever since I decided I wanted to feel good. Your body is a miraculous gift that you need to pay attention to. During that first semester in the fall of 2013 I spent hours alone in my single dorm room watching Netflix and eating junk food while lying around like a sad sap. I wondered why I felt like my figure was turning to mush. Pants were starting to squeeze and shirts were snugger than when I had bought them in the early fall.

My body changed before my eyes and my lethargy intensified. While I complained, I only had myself to blame — I had only hit the gym twice that entire semester. Realizing that my habits had to change, I decided to step it up. I went to a yoga class. The class was calming, rejuvenating and helped my body to slowly regain strength.

During that one-hour a week I would sweat, I would breathe and I would regain my balance. Working out is not about becoming skinny. I see plenty of people with smaller figures at the gym regularly, merely trying to maintain their health by committing to an active lifestyle. It is important to realize that you should be working out for the entire list of health benefits that come with the habit, not solely for losing weight. Eventually, once you commit to incorporating exercise into your weekly routine, you will see the results that may have initially sparked your interest in a gym membership. Working out comes in a variety of forms.

Whether you are a football fanatic or a swimmer, moving your body is beneficial. According to mayoclinic.org, working out does not just help control weight. Exercising also fights health conditions and diseases such as high blood pressure by boosting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. Exercise helps to boost energy in your body by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your tissues to help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Exercise also promotes better sleep, granted you do not work out too close to bedtime, in which case you may have pumped yourself up while trying to wind down. Ultimately, what I urgently want the world to realize is that it is proven that exercise improves your mood. Less scientifically, I have found that wallowing leads to more wallowing.

If you want to feel good for the sake of health, start reading up on a healthy lifestyle. Many of us have been brought up on candy and soda; thinking that things are healthy because they are “fruit flavored.” The first step to being healthy is learning in what ways you are being unhealthy, then slowly replace your old bad habits with healthy alternatives.

The first couple of attempts towards making healthy life choices are the hardest. Do not give up. If you have been living life from the comfort of your couch surviving on salty and sweet junk foods, it is inevitable that eating salad is not going to be satisfying right away. Be patient. Working out the first time will hurt, but just remember that with every minute you spend being active, you are one minute closer to a day when it feels good to be active. After incorporating exercise into my weekly routine for over six months, I can notice a change in my attitude all around. Working out has become something I look forward to. When I am in a bad mood, a little bit of cardio can power me up to take on the day. At this point I crave exercise because it fuels me with happy juices that make me feel alive.

The way I imagine it, we are all responsible for our own body maintenance. Some people pump their bodies with sugar, alcohol and salt, committing to zero minutes of exercise per week. Those bodies run like garbage, always breaking down, lacking the nutrients each of our bodies need to function.

Without proper maintenance, a body will hold no chance of fighting off illness during long winters. Weak bodies hold a higher susceptibility to injury. To gain balance and agility you have to challenge your body. To succeed at body maintenance means to fuel up on fruits, vegetables and protein while moving every single day. Fuel your body with healthy choices and work out your muscles regularly and your body will stay strong and healthy. With a healthy body, the days go by smoothly and there is more to be happy about.

Clearly it is easier to say you will go to the gym than to actually go. I find that in order to make something a habit you must slowly replace the old habits with new ones. If you are genuinely interested in working out, then put on sneakers and gym shorts.

Commit yourself and remember that eventually it becomes easier. It feels great when you are wiping sweat from your brow thinking, “I did it!” Not to mention the strength you begin to feel after working out consistently. Before you know it, you will start to set goals and challenges for yourself that you had never anticipated achievable.

 

Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@keene-equinox.com