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Your Body On... Exercise

Moving your body can do wonders for your mind, muscles, and mood.

It’s the morning after Thanksgiving, and you’re not feeling awesome: Too much pie combined with staying up late with your cousins the night before have you wishing you could lounge in bed all day. Plus, you’re stressed about that English paper due the day you get back from the holiday. The last thing you feel like doing is working out. But if you fight through that reluctance and move your body—even just by going for a walk around the block—you’ll not only feel physically better, you’ll get more energy, be in a happier mood, and even have improved focus and concentration for writing your paper. Can exercise really do all those things? It really can. Here’s how.

Brain

As your heart rate increases during exercise, more blood flows to the brain, stimulating the growth of brain cells and aiding learning and memory.

Mood

Exercise triggers the release of the hormones dopamine and serotonin, both of which increase feelings of happiness and help combat symptoms of depression.

Heart

Over time, exercise makes your heart stronger, which helps prevent conditions like high blood pressure.

Lungs

Exercise makes your lungs more efficient at getting oxygen into your blood, so you won’t get out of breath as easily. 

Muscles/Bones

Exercise causes tiny tears in your muscles. The muscle rebuilds itself a little bit stronger, making it more powerful. Your bones also become stronger and denser.

1. If You Feel...

Stressed, anxious, or distracted

Try Yoga. The gentle stretches and breathing exercises will help focus your mind and calm your nervous system. To get started, look up beginning yoga routines on YouTube.

Sad or grumpy

Try taking a walk. The fresh air and sunlight will perk you up, and the physical activity will improve your mood.

Distracted or burnt out

Try vigorous exercise. Getting your blood pumping will give you a burst of energy and clear those cobwebs from your head. Try 20 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, and 20 jumping jacks.

3. Work In Your Workout

Bursts of activity throughout the day can provide the same benefits as a single prolonged workout. Try any (or all!) of these:

  • Bike or walk to school instead of driving or riding the bus
  • Take the stairs instead of riding the elevator
  • Dance to your favorite song
  • Walk your dog
  • Play tag with your siblings

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