Fit to Print

by Beacon Staff • October 20, 2011

a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Krista.jpgimg class=alignleft size-full wp-image-3813541 title=Krista src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Krista.jpg alt= width=269 height=300 //a

It’s a new school year, and you’ve hit the ground running — joining more organizations than you can handle, lugging around at least four textbooks, and stacking your planner with a color-coded schedule (okay, maybe I’m the only color coder).

Chances are, you’re reading this between classes. You can hardly find time to sleep, let alone eat healthy food or exercise. But be forewarned: Your body can only handle this for so long.

Stress can come from many different things — school, extracurriculars, even relationships. These stressors are defined by the Mayo Clinic, a national medical research group, as events or conditions in your surroundings that trigger anxiety. According to Prevention magazine’s website, your body emits cortisol when you’re stressed out, and over time this hormone deteriorates your mind and body. Mild stress can be beneficial — it can motivate and energize you. But at Emerson, I think we all know that many students are more than merely overworked.

strongKrista Firkins, Beacon Columnist/strong

As stress mounts, your immune system weakens, your metabolism slows, and your temples begin to throb with tension headaches. Skimping on sleep only makes it worse and makes tasks more difficult to handle. Exercise — gasp! — which many college students don’t make time for, can decrease anxiety levels as well as increase your overall health. And for the record, you don’t have to be an athlete, a bodybuilder, or be attempting to lose 50 pounds to go to the gym.

Any kind of exercise can pump up your endorphins, relax you, and improve your mood, says the Mayo Clinic. Getting fit can help increase the production of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that give you the feelings you also experience from excitement, love, eating spicy food, and orgasms. Even a little bit of busting your butt can boost self-confidence (yes, people notice you checking yourself out in the mirrors of the fitness center) and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

I know it seems like you’ll never have time to do this, you busy bee, you. Or maybe you’re that kid who goes to the gym and the only familiar piece of equipment is the treadmill, or the large crowds intimidate you. Avoiding any and all physical exertion for a couple days, slacking on sleep, and filling your body with junk food may be okay occasionally, because as the age-old adage goes, “you’re only young once.” But this is your time to learn how to break bad habits and not only be responsible for managing your always-growing to-do list, but your mind and body as well. Exercising just a few times will outweigh all your gym fears and hesitations — you’ll be fighting stress and staying in shape at the same time.

While you attempt to pack your schedule with meetings and activities, don’t forget to leave some time for yourself to de-stress with physical activity — and treat yourself to a few Saturdays of sleeping in. Remember, you can get dining hall breakfast until 2 p.m. on weekends. No one will judge you for taking some time for yourself, and your body will thank you regardless of your type-A tendencies.

emFirkins is a senior print journalism major and a Beacon/em emcolumnist. /em

emShe can be reached at kristina_firkins@emerson.edu./em

emFollow her on Twitter @kristafir/em