Words of Wellness: exercise revitalizes the body and mind

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Exercise and Wellbeing
Is the impending winter filling you with doom and gloom? Introducing a one-stop shop for happiness, health, and wellness: EXERCISE!

For some of us, the sound of exercising is a darker prospect than any night in the upcoming winter months. While I doubt I can change your mind about exercise in 800 words, I’m hoping that this can at least provide you with some information in order to make an informed decision about your physical activity habits.

That College Life
College can be a stressful time. Everyone from first-year students to super seniors can experience the stress of balancing school, work, and life. For many students, the reality is that they are faced with an often inconsistent day-to-day, and setting any daily routine can be difficult. When looking at an already packed schedule, with classes, labs, seeing friends, and still trying to make time to study, eat and sleep, it can be hard to justify moving your body.

Understandably, many people then put off exercise, thinking of it as an “extra” or something to be done if-and-when you have the time. However, these fast-paced stressful times are when your body and brain could use exercise the most. Even if it is just a quick workout, jog, or yoga session (check out YouTube for nice dorm room yoga-approved videos), giving yourself a break can reap immediate benefits and help you be more productive when you do get back to it.

Mental Health
According Sophia Breene, in the Huffington Post, “Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits.” Breene outlines many benefits, including: reducing stress, “boosting Happy chemicals,” improving self-confidence, and helping people cope with anxiety.

The current medical literature backs up the claims made by Breene. According to Carek, Laibstain, and Carek, “Physical activity has been consistently shown to be associated with improved physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being. Conversely, physical inactivity appears to be associated with the development of psychological disorders. Specific studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression.”

In one such study, conducted by James Blumenthal, Ph.D, and his colleagues, “assigned sedentary adults with major depressive disorder to one of four groups: supervised exercise, home-based exercise, antidepressant therapy, or a placebo pill. After four months of treatment, Blumenthal found, patients in the exercise and antidepressant groups had higher rates of remission than did the patients who had a placebo. Exercise, he concluded, was generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder.”

Exercise at JSC
Luckily for the would-be depressed, Johnson State abounds with opportunities for individual or group exercise. For the non-sports-inclined, take a walk along one of the nature trails, located near the Tennis Courts and Snowboard Terrain Park, or take a walking trip down to Sterling Market, the Gihon or Lamoille Rivers, or the broader town of Johnson. Off-campus there are many hiking locations nearby, including the Long Trail, Mount Elmore, Prospect Rock, and the Babcock Nature Preserve!
If you are a sports’ person, consider signing up for an intramural sport of your choice, check out S.H.A.P.E. or try out for a Varsity athletics team!

If you aren’t interested in walking, hiking, or sports, but still would like to improve your overall wellbeing, you might consider taking a Yoga class! Besides the physical benefits of various yoga movements, it can help reduce stress, and revitalize the spirit. In addition to the Wellness and health benefits, classes are a great way to connect with other people and make new friends at Johnson State.

The Johnson State College Master Calendar is regularly updated with open swimming, spinning, and floor hockey and yoga class information.

Benefits without the Work(out)
For some, exercise may not be a possibility. What are you to do, in order to potentially feel better, and improve mental health?

The Wellness Center offers therapeutic counseling, free of charge, to students. In addition to counseling services, the Wellness Center has a relaxation room (with adult coloring books, salt lamp, comfy chairs) and a light therapy room. Feel free to drop in! In addition, we will be visited by Therapy Dogs of Vermont every third Monday of the month, and they will bring a dog to our relaxation room! Again, feel free to drop-in. We are located on the ground floor of the Senators building, our entrance on the road-side, and we are open from 9-4, Monday through Friday.

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