College can be stressful, nerve racking, full of uncomfortable/awkward situations, generate anxiety and depression. I know this through my own experiences and just by observing other people. I love to just sit back and watch people in certain situations, and how people respond completely different from one another in the exact same circumstances.
We all get stressed/sad/happy/angry from different things and to different degrees. My stress levels don’t really rise that much during finals week or in a social situations, but I get sad/anxious when I think about my ex-girlfriend, or when I have $4.36 in my bank account, or when I eat a big ass pizza. We are all different in what brings our mood down just as we all seek different outlets to make ourselves feel better.
Some people smoke, some people drink, some people take anti-depressants (which is becoming way more prevalent unfortunately), some people play games/sports, some people exercise, some people (not a lot of people I know) read, and so on. Some of these are probably healthier outlets than others, but I am not here to judge. How people deal with sadness or anger is their business, and people are going to do what makes them feel good because that is what us humans do; we are pleasure seekers.
I wanted to talk about this because I recently came across some interesting research facts. It has been shown that exercise increases mood BETTER than anti-depressants such as Prozac. How interesting is that?! Pushing around heavy shit or running around actually makes you happier than “happy pills”. Plus, as a bonus, when you are exercising there is no voice talking really fast that says “side effects may include: increased chance of heart disease, internal bleeding, or possibly death”. I know you know what I am talking about, right? Those medication commercials where they list all the negative side effects at the end of the commercial as quickly as possible with a screen shot of a happy couple walking on the beach. yeah.. maybe that was a dumb joke…
So based on how you are feeling, different types of exercise can cause different types of mood change.
Lifting Weights -> Improved Confidence
Running/Longer Duration Cardio -> Increased Mood (Feeling depressed? Go run a stadium!)
Sprinting/High Intensity -> Decreased Anxiety
Research continues to show these positive results correlated with exercise. I personally swear by this! If I pump massive iron (or lift weights that maybe aren’t so massive) I have a new renowned swag of confidence when leaving the gym. When I start to feel kind of sad I will go do a stadium workout (longer duration cardio), and all of a sudden I will be in a great mood. And when I do sprints I feel very calm and peaceful. It is truly astounding!
For me, it is easy because I love to exercise. A lot of people HATE exercise or “mean” to at the end of the day, but are too tired in the evening from a long day. I get that for many people it isn’t easy to consistently go to the gym, but for those days where you are in a funk use your negative emotions to push hard in the gym or out in a field or in your dorm room. Research has also shown that exercise helps with:
- Cognition: Exercise increases blood flow to brain which helps creativity, problem solving, and smooth talking the hunnies (or guys for you ladies reading this)
- More Adaptive to Stress: Those who exercise are more emotionally stable which can lead to healthier relationships, and cause people to be less likely to “lose it”
- Living Longer
- Prevent Disease: There is NO better drug for ANY disease. Including cancer; people who exercise tend to be less likely to get cancer, and those with cancer who exercise have higher survival rates
- Mood Enhancement: There is no better mood enhancer than exercise.
- Better anti-inflammatory than asprin
- Having Sex: You can mess with all the Viagra you want, but exercise is the BEST thing to do for stronger erections and higher sex drive. Drugs, alcohol, and being overweight are all a bad deal for your sex life.
I hope you guys found these research results as interesting as I did. What kind of exercise do you do? What is your stress free outlet? Leave a comment below :)