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Exercise increases physical strength, stamina, and weight loss are a few of the more obvious benefits of exercise, but there are many other reasons to make it a part of your regular routine.

Reduces stress: Physical activity is a helpful stress management strategy. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reminds us that we can't completely avoid stress in our lives, but we can proactively reduce its effects through activities like walking, running, and yoga.

Boosts brain function: Want to improve your memory? A study from the University of Texas at Dallas recently found that physical activity, such as using a stationary bike or treadmill, not only positively affects memory loss, but also improves other cognitive functions and general brain health.

Improves mood: According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the benefits of exercise is improved mood, which happens when your brain releases chemicals, such as endorphins, that affect your overall feeling of well-being. Exercise can leave you happier and more confident.

Improves quality of sleep: The National Sleep Foundation has highlighted research that physical activity can help you sleep better at night and be more alert during the day.

Increases metabolic rate: recommends exercise as one of the primary ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories, if weight loss is your goal.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides physical activity guidelines for Americans, which are designed to improve overall health.

Adults will realize most of the possible benefits of being active if they are exercising at least 150 minutes each week, or 30 minutes a day. This should be a moderately intense aerobic activity, such as running, brisk walking, bicycling, playing basketball, dancing, and swimming. HHS notes that additional benefits can be gained from 300 minutes of activity.

Ideas to help you get started.

  • Check out the MCC Fitness Centers.  Head to the gym between classes or when you get up in the morning to squeeze in a workout.
  • Take advantage of fitness courses. Along with gym facilities most students will have access to fitness classes they can take.
  • Stretch first. Help yourself avoid injuries by stretching each time you exercise. Simple stretches before and after you work out or engage in physical activity can help keep you active and pain free.
  • Ride your bike. Instead of taking the bus or driving to class, try biking instead. It will give you a few minutes of exercise between your courses.
  • Play a sport. One way to get yourself motivated to exercise is to make it a game by playing a sport.
  • Walk to class. While taking public transportation might be quicker, walking will give you a chance to stretch your legs, burn some calories and relax before your next class.
  • Incorporate different kinds of exercise in your routine. When you work out, don't just stick to one kind of workout. Incorporate strength training, cardio and stretching exercises into your routine to make it well rounded.
  • Make it fun. You're probably not going to work out if you are bored with your routine or find going to the gym torture. Find a way to make it fun for yourself and you'll be much more likely to keep it up.
  • Bring a friend. With someone else relying on you showing up, you'll be much more likely to make the effort to work out. Plus, working out with a friend can be a great way to make working out more fun. 
  • Choose healthy options at our on-campus dining options.
  • Bring fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on between classes.

If a gym is not for you, check out these ideas:

60 minutes of gym-free fitness: dance, walk, jump rope, hike, fitness gaming, strength training, online fitness videos, bike


Adapted from 101 Health and Wellness Tips for College Students and Center for Online Education - Student Health and Wellness Guide  Graphic from 7 Tips to Get Fit Without Going to the Gym