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Sprint away from stress

Students and faculty realize the emotional benefits of exercise

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Art by Skylar Kim

Art by Skylar Kim

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Have you ever been so frustrated with school, friends and life in general that make you feel like you’re going to explode? Instead of complaining and whining, one of the best ways to get this frustration out of the brain is through exercise.

According to studies done by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exercising also builds fundamental habits that last a lifetime and increase academic performance.

Another study done by the ACSM spoke on how minority ethnic groups reportedly have higher depressive symptoms than majority ethnic groups. The ACSM conducted a study showing that minority adolescents participating in some type of exercise leisure activity show less depressive symptoms than those in the minority who do not exercise at all.

Saint Viator teacher Mr. Kyle Deger specifically spoke on the psychological benefits of exercise and how exercising helps boost self esteem.

“Exercise is beneficial for our body and brains because a variety of neurotransmitters that affect mood are released when we exercise” said Mr. Deger. “These neurotransmitters- dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins- are part of a natural reward system that exists in each of our brains. To activate this natural reward system, which occurs with a delay, we need to do some type of work. Exercise can activate this natural reward system, but this can also apply to academic work students do as well.”

The easiest way to define what a neurotransmitter does is that it transfers neurologic information from one cell to another. This cell can be a part of tissues, muscles, or organs.

Mr. Deger also mentioned the benefits of group exercise.

“When it comes to working out, I highly encourage people to work out in groups,” said Mr. Deger. “People are more motivated to work out in a group. Not only will the presence of others motivate you to get to the gym in the first place, but group workouts can also lead to friendly competition the leads one to potentially work out harder. Completing a strenuous group workout can also contribute to team bonding that leads to victories on the field or court. A grueling activity, like the 8-mile pyramid run soccer players endure, helps to build character and a bond with teammates that helps when adversity strikes during the season.”  

Payton McDonnell, a junior three sport varsity athlete, explains how she sees sports as an escape and a way to express herself.

“Sports are a great way for me to take a break from my busy schedule,” said McDonnell.

“I always look forward to practices and games because I can have fun while also becoming a better athlete. Sports also help clear my mind which allows me to focus fully on the game or practice. After I workout, I feel a lot more relaxed and stress free. When I exercise, endorphins are released which improves my mood. I always feel re energized and ready to take on the other tasks I have to do that day.”

McDonnell also spoke on how exercising helps her be more productive with her time.

“After working out, I feel more motivated to do homework and study” said McDonnell. “Being a student athlete pushes me to be productive and complete all my homework instead of procrastinating. When I do not exercise or practice, I find that I procrastinate more and take longer to finish my homework.”

The new strength and conditioning coach, Alex Nadolna, gave his perspective on the importance of exercise and how it can psychologically help adolescents.

“A huge psychological benefit of exercising is an increase in confidence,” said Coach Nadolna.

“You start seeing yourself getting stronger and changing your appearance, which can help boost your overall confidence. Another benefit includes focus, energy and attention will all go up after exercising and it helps alleviate all the stress and other feelings we feel throughout the day.”

Coach Nadolna, like Mr. Deger, spoke on how team lifting workouts can help the psychological mindset of a team. 

“There’s a certain aspect of working out with a team that really builds a camaraderie that cannot be built anywhere else,” said Coach Nadolna.

“Regardless of the situation, you can always go back and say ‘Remember all those months down in the weight room preparing for these moments’ which is a tremendous psychological advantage for teams.”

 

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Sprint away from stress