Do you often feel overwhelmed with class, extracurriculars, work, teaching, or any other time-sucking, everyday activity? Do you find yourself feeling anxious and restless from a long day? Look no further — physical activity is your remedy.

Most Americans report issues with daily stress and anxiety. Working out serves as a viable method of working through such mental hindrances. While other methods, such as sleeping, eating, socializing, and watching TV also serve as coping mechanisms, their effects go unmatched against working out. 

Illustration by Cate Johnson

The physical activity of working out releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, allowing the brain to relax and rest. Many people additionally find exercise to be a meditative activity, claiming they are able to focus deeply on the physical activity, a distraction from stressful thoughts. According to one study, a mere five minutes of aerobic exercise can improve the cardiovascular system and strengthen the ability to breathe, improving the status of our mental states. 

Exercise promotes productivity in everyday activities. For example, the increase of endorphins from consistent physical activity increases fatigue, leading to a better sleep. It is important to note that not everyone responds to working out the same way, however. Research shows that physical activity greatly helps with stress, but some people report experiencing only mild benefits or even none at all from working out. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the recommended amount of intensive physical activity for the average person is about an hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours of more mild physical activity, or a combination of the two, per week. So, even if you hate working out or consider yourself to be out-of-shape, physical activity can still be a viable method of stress relief. Intensive physical activity includes running, weightlifting, or swimming, and mild activities fall more along the lines of walks, bike riding, and mild sport activity, such as shooting hoops or playing soccer with friends. 

Ultimately, science shows that your mental state will greatly benefit from a couple hours of physical activity a week. Colorado College has plenty of great opportunities for filling those two hours. Spending time in the Ritt Kellogg climbing gym, the fitness center, and swimming pool, or joining an intramural or club sports team are all great ways to get out and get active. 

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