Exercise Is the Best Medicine
Exercise is a great way to improve brain function. It improves your brain’s ability to focus by increasing your blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and glucose to the brain while taking away waste products. Recent studies show that exercise can even stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus—the memory center of the brain.
"I Don't Exercise. Where Do I Start?"
Choose a Minimum
Your body will benefit from several 10-minute exercise activities throughout the day. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly is recommended. Try to do a little each day.
Focus on Steps or Distance
Sometimes it’s easier to have a goal other than time. Try working up to walking or running 10,000 steps or 8 kilometres per day.
Don’t Try Too Much Too Soon
You may become discouraged and quit, so start slowly and progress gradually. Do not over-exert yourself.
Practice Safety Precautions
Stretch before you begin, wear a helmet, walk in well-lit areas or with a partner, and drink plenty of water.
Do It with a Group
You will likely be more motivated to exercise if you involve your family and friends.
Whatever You Do, Make Sure You Enjoy It
Find an activity you enjoy doing. You will be more likely to stay involved with your exercise program.
Benefits of Exercise
Boosts Your Endorphins
Exercise helps your brain produce feel-good neurotrans-mitters called endorphins. These will help you shed tension and focus on a single task.
Helps Improve Sleep
A moderate amount of daily aerobic exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, leaving you less tired during the day.
Boosts Energy Levels
Exercise improves blood circulation, helping you stay alert.
Exercising at regular intervals leads to the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, helping your memory. Research suggests that aerobic exercise training can lead to improvements in attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. Exercise can also prevent age-related memory loss.
Exercise helps burn off chemicals such as adrenaline, which can help reduce stress.
Distracts from Negative Thinking
When you exercise you can get away from stress-inducing circumstances for a while. Exercise also helps distract from negative thoughts.
Exercise and Exams
During exam times you may feel unable to take much time off from studying. Instead of giving up on exercise completely, try taking small, regular breaks to refresh your body and mind. Take a walk around the library or campus.
Think about what times of day you study best. Some people find doing homework easier in the morning while others are more productive in the afternoon. Plan your day and fit some exercise around your study plan.
"What Should I Do When I Can't Focus?"
Visit the PAC
Check out the PAC on campus. Get in your daily exercise by visiting the Fit Centre, climbing wall, indoor track, or pool. The PAC also offers a wide range of fitness classes. For more information, visit USask Rec.
Join an Intramural Team
Join a competitive or recreational team. Intramural sports include badminton, basketball, curling, dodgeball, floor hockey, football, futsal, hockey, innertube basketball, innertube water polo, slo-pitch, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball. For more information, visit Campus Rec Intramurals.
Check Out Campus Walking Routes
You have access to some of the best indoor and outdoor walking paths in Saskatoon right from campus. See all of the routes.
Yoga can be practiced as a physical exercise, a spiritual practice, or an entire lifestyle system. Many experience reduced stress and increased concentration. There are different types of Yoga so you many need to try a few before finding one you like. Begin with a beginner class as the poses get quite advanced. Many yoga studios offer a student discount or complementary first class, or attend free at the PAC.
What are the Guidelines?
To achieve health benefits, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
This is best spread out over a week, for example, 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity activity on five days a week.
Lets Talk Intensity
Physical activities cause you to feel somewhat warm and to sweat a little. Your breathing is harder, but you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising.
- Brisk walking, 5-6.5 km/hr (9-12 minute kilometer).
- Ice Skating at a leisurely pace.
- Bike riding.
Physical activities cause you to sweat and feel quite warm. Your breathing is more rapid making it difficult to carry on a conversation while exercising.
- Race walking, jogging, or running.
- Cross country skiing.
- It is beneficial to add muscle-strengthening activities, which use major muscle groups, at least two days per week.
- It is not advisable to do more than five vigorous workouts per week while moderate exercise can be done every day of the week. If you like vigorous activity, try doing a moderate intensity workout between days of vigorous activity to ensure that your body has time to recover between workouts.
- Finding something you enjoy is key. While moderate and vigorous activity both provide health benefits, many people find a moderate pace more enjoyable. Most often people "fall off the exercise wagon" because they have chosen an activity or plan that doesn’t fit them - not because they are lazy or lack willpower. Give some real thought to the kinds of activity that you like and find invigorating - rather than exhausting. Physical activity should feel good!
- Go for a walk around the bowl or along the tunnels as a study break
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Add steps to your day—park far away, walk to a further bus stop, or take the long way to class.
- Use readily available household products as well as your own body weight to build strength For example use a strong box for step-ups.
- Take up a new hobby like yoga, dancing, or gardening.
"What If I Exercise Too Much?"
It can be tempting to apply the “more is better” philosophy to exercise, but the benefits of physical activity are actually reversed if you do too much.
Signs of Overtraining
- Exercise feels harder than usual
- Muscles and joints are regularly stiff and sore
- You are tired and sluggish
- Slower recovery from workouts
- Frequent headaches or stomach pains
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent sore throats or colds
If you find yourself putting your workouts above everything else in your life—studies, relationships, or other activities—and you are not training for a specific short-term goal, talk to a counsellor or health provider at Student Wellness Centre.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Many people exercise to build muscle and in hopes of burning body fat. Surprisingly, this only works if you are eating enough - between 1,800–2,500 kcal/day for a moderately active woman (depending on height, build and genetics).
If you exercise when your food intake is low (e.g., less than 1,500 kcal/day) your body cannot use fat for fuel and will break down muscle tissue to use instead.
To get the most benefits from being physically active, eat regularly (at least every 4-5 hours) and try to get enough of the energy and nutrients you need from wholesome foods.