Why students should prioritize their physical well-being

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 10/15/17 10:07pm

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This past Friday, Oct. 13, Grand Valley State University President Thomas Haas led the GVSU community on a two-mile walk about the Allendale Campus to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of physical activity.

For students at GVSU, it can be all too easy to put exercise on the back burner and prioritize homework, studying, work and other personal commitments. Making time to work out becomes even more difficult (unrealistic, even) at this point in the semester when deadlines for midterm papers and projects loom ominously over students’ schedules.

Inevitably, most students need to drop something from their schedules just to survive their busy semesters. Because exercise doesn’t have an immediate, obvious effect on students’ academic and career goals, it frequently gets dropped, right along with sleep and other activities that are usually directly related to students’ physical health. In short, students frequently sacrifice their physical well-being for the sake of their academic well-being.

What some students may fail to realize, though, is that investing even a small chunk of time in their physical health may reap enormous benefits in their academic pursuits. Exercise, for example, boosts energy, helps clear mental fog and stimulates brain cell development, making long study sessions more bearable. It can also help regulate sleep, which in term regulates energy and mental clarity. In addition, exercise also improves memory retention, which can prove useful when it comes to studying for exams. 

Making time for exercise is also an important part of living a well-rounded, balanced life in general. If students neglect this component of a balanced lifestyle, they will throw the other components (maintaining strong relationships, succeeding in school, etc.) out of whack. It is easy for students to forget to value their physical health in a college setting, but it is extremely important.

GVSU recognizes that although good students will spend much of their time studying and preparing for their future careers, it is just as important for them to develop good exercise habits to contribute to a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.

That’s why events like “Walk with the President” are so important, especially this time of the year. The university is sending the message that physical health should be prioritized right along with academic and mental health, just as it should be. 

The university is practicing what it preaches, too, with its considerable investment in exercise-based resources like the recently renovated Recreation Center, which is encouraging more and more students to prioritize their physical health. The equipment there is accessible for all students, and even if running on a treadmill or counting reps on a bench press isn't your thing, getting involved with intramural sports or taking exercise classes are other easy and fun ways to stay active. 

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