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Brittany Anderson

Ms. Caruso
UWRT 1103
29 February 2016
How Exercise Effects the College Student
Exercise is something that everyone needs, yet only a small percentage of us actually take
advantage of. Why do people exercise? Why do people not exercise? Why are some life time
careers purely devoted to exercise? According to a study done by Gallup (an analytical company
who takes surveys and makes game plans for people and companies) 51% of Americans say they
want to loose weight. Some people say admitting it is the first step right? Well not in the case of
exercise. Only 25% of the 51% of Americans who say they want to loose weight, are actually
doing anything about it. Thats not quite half of the people who are actually working towards this
goal (Brown, Americans Desire to Shed Pounds Outweighs Effort). While Americans as a
whole are surprising I want to look specifically at one population of people: college students. If
anyone is going to workout I believe college students are the most likely. They have a much
more flexible schedule from their high school days which usually consisted of classes from
around 8am to 3:15pm. This being said we all know the main reason why people dont exercise is
because they think they dont have time. I have no intention on questioning their time
management, what I would like to do is show how exercise is vital to our health in terms of
memory, energy level, and sleep patterns.
While doing my research, the one area that I found, which surprised me the most was
how exercise effects the memory. Although there are many more aspects to college than just

hitting the books, most of us realize that education is the most important one. One of the main
parts of education these days is purely the ability to recall what you have learned. Some find it
difficult to recall answers on a test, homework thats due, or the group project meeting that
started an hour ago. Yes, setting reminders in your phone will help tremendously, but one way to
help your mind remember for itself is exercise. Heidi Godman a writer for Harvard Medical said
it like this:
"The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance,
reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factorschemicals in the brain
that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even
the abundance and survival of new brain cells. (Godman, Regular Exercise Changes the
Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills)
I had to read this several times to understand that this just means that during exercise the brain is
stimulated in ways which help your memory. Just like your metabolism is stimulated, which
helps you lose weight, your brain is working overtime to improve itself. Many may think that,
while it would be great to exercise and benefit from memory growth, they just don't have the
time. A common misconception is that in order to make a difference in your body you must
exercise for hours and hours; this is simply not true. Studies have shown that low intensity
workouts help just as much (Godman, Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory,
Thinking Skills) . Low intensity could mean taking a walk, taking the stairs instead of the
elevator, going for a swim, etc. Most of these activities we do to some degree without even
considering it. Imagine how much exercise the average college student could get if they thought
consciously about adding these activities to their lives.

The oxymoron excuse that a college student gives for not exercising is that they just dont
have enough energy. All of us can relate to this. There are times when we fill much more
energized than others. I call this excuse an oxymoron because everyone knows that if you dont
have a lot of energy than you need to exercise to get more energy, but people dont have the
energy to start exercising. The science behind it is that as you exercise your blood starts flowing
more, which allows more nutrients to be brought to different parts of your body giving you the
nutrients you need (Web, Exercise as a Cure for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels). As
college students its easy to get caught in the rat race of balancing or classes, hobbies, and
personal lives, but all these activities require energy. I have heard this statement from numerous
freshman, I dont need to exercise because walking to my classes is exercise enough. While it
usually does take a bit of effort to walk to your classes you have to work a little harder in order to
raise your overall energy level. Two and a half hours of moderate-intensity is the suggested
amount of exercise per week if one wants to raise their energy levels (Web, Exercise as a Cure
for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels). So walking to class everyday is not necessarily enough
of a workout, but if you add a swim or some time on the treadmill than you most likely will see
an improvement in your energy level over time.
Whether in their dorms, in class, or in the library, college students are known for how
much they sleep. Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep; not just the amount but also
the quality of the sleep that you get. During my research I read that by exercising just 150
minutes a week sleep can improve about 65% (Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality
of Sleep). Although I knew that a hard hike would make you sleep better that night I never

considered the fact that only 150 minutes could actually greatly effect your sleep. This also
means that if youre sleeping better at night than obviously you have more energy the next day.
Psychology Today explains this phenomenon, It can strengthen (link is external) circadian
rhythms, promoting daytime alertness and helping bring on sleepiness at night." (Breus, Better
Sleep Found by Exercising on a Regular Basis). College students are often defined by the fact
that they sleep so irregularly. Some nights theyll sleep for 14 hours uninterrupted while other
nights theyll only get 3 hours of sleep. This variety can really mess with a persons sleep cycle.
When someone falls asleep they start what is called a sleep cycle, or different stages of sleep
from light to deep sleep. Its not a good idea to wake up without finishing a sleep cycle (90
minutes long), because you will wake up disoriented and most likely not refreshed at all.
Exercise during the day helps you fall asleep and complete all the stages of sleep, especially
REM sleep which is the final and most crucial part of the cycle because this is where you dream
and analyze the days activities. Sleeping is a major part of the college students life and it can be
improved through exercise.
These three examples are just a few of the many ways that exercise can improve your
life. Now that a case has been made for the benefits of exercise I want to take a look specifically
at which college students are exercising and how often they do it. From the research I did I found
that male college students exercise more than females over all (The exercise hook: It's different
for men and women). The main difference though is how consistent they are related to what
kind of workouts they do. Men who just exercise with cardio workouts (such as walking,
climbing stairs, using a stationary bike) are less likely to stay consistent with their exercise than

men who lift weights or woman who do any sort of exercise (The exercise hook: It's different
for men and women). So although proportionally more men workout woman are more likely to
stay consistent with their exercise. Studies also show that if woman have a better body image
they are more likely to stay consistent with their exercise. This effect does not seem to play a roll
in a mans likely hood to work out consistently (The exercise hook: It's different for men and
women). The exercise hook: It's different for men and women I looked into the topic of what
makes men and women exercise I was surprised that body image didnt play a huge factor in
whether or not men were consistent. Every guy Ive known has worked out specifically because
they want to have a better body image.
Exercise helps the college students memory, energy level, and sleep improve in huge
ways. Although some people may not believe they have much of a need for exercise because
they because they are not drastically over weight, everyone can benefit from it. College students
are in the prime of their lives and from the research that I did I can only identify ways that
exercise would help improve their lifestyles. Although it might be hard to start, I believe that
every college student should take a step towards a healthier life by setting some time aside for
exercise.

Works Cited

"Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality of Sleep." - National Sleep Foundation. Web.
29 Feb. 2016.
Breus, Michael J., Dr. "Better Sleep Found by Exercising on a Regular Basis." Psychology
Today. 06 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Brown, Alyssa. "Americans' Desire to Shed Pounds Outweighs Effort." Gallup.com. 29 Nov.
2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Godman, Heidi. "Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills Harvard Health Blog." Harvard Health Blog RSS. 2014. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
"IU News Room." The Exercise Hook: It's Different for Men and Women: : Indiana University.
Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Webb, Marion. "Fitness Programs | Exercise As a Cure for Fatigue and To Boost Energy Levels."
ACE Fit. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.