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Let’s face it: we’re all extremely busy. The idea of adding one more thing to your busy schedule can be overwhelming. While a growing list of things to do can be extremely stressful, there’s one thing we should all be adding to our daily routine that will actually have the opposite effect: exercise. Most people hear the word “exercise” and automatically picture standing in a cramped room full of other sweaty people lifting really heavy things. This might be my idea of a fun exercise routine, but it’s not for everyone! Whether it’s going for a scenic walk or run outside, biking to and from work or school, heading to a local baseball diamond to toss a ball around with some friends or sweating it out in your favourite yoga class, exercise is crucial to your health and success in and out of the classroom in more ways than you may be aware of.

Reason 1: Increased Energy Levels

Going for that five mile run might sound like something that will leave you ready for bed before you have even started your day, but exercise is actually an extremely effective way to increase motivation and energy. Research has shown that those who exercise regularly report feeling more energized and productive than their sedentary coworkers. When you exercise, your body actually creates new cells that accommodate for the extra energy needed to power through a workout. By being active, you’re literally helping your body to create more energy – both during and after physical activity! So next time you’re thinking about walking across campus to Tim Hortons to get that coffee to power you through a long day of studying, consider starting your day with exercise for all of the energy, and less of the caffeine.

Reason 2: Maintaining Mental Health

There’s very few times when we aren’t thinking about everything that we have to do that may be stressing us out, and one of those instances is when you’re engaging in physical activity. Not only does exercise give you an escape from those daily stressors, but research has shown that regular exercise can be very beneficial to individuals who suffer from or are prone to anxiety. By being active, we are unknowingly inducing bodily responses that can be very similar to those experienced when someone is anxious: increased heart rate, sweating and shortness of breath. For those who are prone to anxiety, experiencing these symptoms through exercise can actually help individuals to become more comfortable with this feeling and cope with anxiety more effectively the next time it hits.

Reason 3: Improve Brain Function

It has been shown that regular exercise actually slows down the natural decline of executive functions in the brain with age. These functions include inhibiting inappropriate behaviour, moving from one task to another, and being able to hold focus for the task at hand. By increasing executive function, exercise helps individuals to stay sharp and healthy throughout the lifespan.

If increasing energy, maintaining good mental health and improving executive function are all appealing benefits to you, check out these beginner workouts to help get yourself started (or back on track) on your fitness journey. Happy exercising!

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