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Exercising consistently is one of the most important things a student can do

Everybody always tells you that college is full of free time. And while that may be true, due to fewer hours of the day taken up by classes, that free time can quickly be filled up with other activities.

Homework, studying, clubs and relaxation always seem to invade every bit of time not taken up by school itself.

However, what should be a vital part of a schedule is often overlooked by busy and stressed college students — and that is staying active.

I have found that creating a routine of exercise has been greatly beneficial, both for my physical and mental health. Yet it can be difficult and confusing for college students who are not sure how to begin or fit it into their schedules.

Staying active can be many things, from routine exercising, like lifting weights and going on runs, to playing sports and hiking. There is no one way to stay active, and, in fact, it is always good to have multiple outlets.

Running, whether that be high-intensity intervals or a longer jog, has many health benefits beyond better cardio. According to Better Health Channel, it can help one lose weight, build stronger bones and increase muscular strength.

Furthermore, weight training is a great compliment to running, although their mutualistic connection is often overlooked. Many people feel that they have to choose one or the other, but the truth is that if you want to benefit your overall health it is important to cross-train.

This is because each activity benefits the other. In terms of lifting, running improves stability and coordination, whereas for running, lifting leads to fewer injuries due to increased strength and muscle mass.

Running outside is great, but with colder months coming, the Rec Center and other gyms on campus provide treadmills and other cardio machines, as well as a variety of weight training equipment. There is also an indoor track, ⅛ of a mile, above the basketball courts.

It can be daunting to start exercising in a gym setting when one has never done it before. Thankfully, the Rec Center provides many options for beginners, including group fitness and personal trainers. 

On the other hand, it is important to still have fun while staying active, and sports are a great way to do that. 

Miami has a great intramural program, with tons of different sports offered in men’s, women’s, and co-ed leagues. Although some of the fall leagues are coming to an end, there are many more still to come in the winter, all of which can be found on Miami's  Intramural Sports page.

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Yet, as I mentioned before, many college students struggle to find or use free time to stay active. 

But the truth is that exercising does not have to take up huge chunks of time. A 20-minute jog yields huge benefits, and a full lifting session can be completed in 45 minutes. There is no need to set aside hours of time, and in fact, overworking like that can lead to fatigue and actually cause more harm than good.

I would argue that exercising is as, if not more, important than spending time relaxing. While I would not say that you should not relax at all, one hour of exercise and one hour of relaxation is much better than two hours of relaxation.

Along with the obvious physical benefits, exercising is very important for mental health, and can help with stress, anxiety and even depression.

The human mind and body is an amazing machine, and we have the ability to use it to its full potential. Don’t be afraid to start or change the way you stay active. Fitness is a journey, ever-changing, but the benefits you will see will certainly make you glad you took that step.