Rising to the Physical Challenge

All of us should be doing regular exercise. Yes, you may groan, but please take this coming from someone who is rather ‘un-sporty’. If you told my Year Eight self who dreaded PE every week that she would later be advocating for the importance of sport, she would indeed let out a groan. Four years down the line into both my academic and rowing careers, I am a believer in the benefits of exercise for the following reasons.

Students who engage in regular physical activity have been shown to be more successful academically.  In 2014, a study conducted by the University of Illinois showed that the more aerobically fit a child is, the more compact the white-matter tracts of their brains are. This means that getting into shape physically extends to ‘toning’ your brain. As well as this, regular exercise improves circulation, meaning that larger quantities of oxygen can be carried more quickly to the brain, aiding mental processes.

Biological technicalities aside, exercise has tangible benefits that are noticeable in your day to day life. Taking time out of the day to exercise is more often than not a welcome break from an onslaught of homework. This rings true with both team sports and exercise done alone, as it is time spent either having fun with other people and bonding through shared fitness victories, or with oneself, forming a good opportunity for social downtime and quiet introspection. Another benefit surrounding academic workload is that exercise is tiring, meaning that it becomes easy to fall asleep straight away instead of tossing and turning while worrying about things. As well, regular exercise is a boost to general happiness, as it inspires a sense of achievement, as well as the knowledge that you are improving your health.

Exercise need not take the form of being part of a highly competitive netball, hockey, swimming, or rowing team, although these and the other sports clubs the school run are excellent ways to stay fit. For those who want to start small on their own or don’t have time for a weekly commitment, there are plenty of other ways too. For muscle toning and a bit of cardio, you could find fitness videos or circuit ideas online to follow. Lots of parks hold weekly runs you (and parents or siblings) could take part in. You could even simply run some laps around your block every couple of evenings. Put those Lulu Lemons on and get going!