In the past year I have read three books that have explained how exercise improves brain function (i.e. Brain Rules, Stop Saying You're Fine, and The Compound Effect). Stop Saying You're Fine by Mel Robbins cites how Naperville Central High School had its students begin the day with exercise, leading to astounding grade improvements.
Most of us understand all the benefits of exercise. And yet for me, the one that always appealed the most was that it could actually improve my energy and brain function and thus help me be more effective each day - a type-A personality's dream. Hooray!
The only problem is, that enthusiasm doesn't always hit when your alarm shrieks that it's time to wake up and exercise.
But since exercise can improve your focus, energy, and brain power (3 things desperately needed to succeed in college), below are the tips that helped me make exercise a fun part of my life, and not the chore it always used to feel like (or, let's be honest, the chore I always used to ignore).
1. Read about the part of exercise that inspires you most (yes, I've even worked reading into a list about exercise, please don't hate me). Whether it's a book or researching articles online, learn as much as you can about the benefits of exercise that most excite you.
Whether it's losing weight, improving a health problem, getting buff, toning up, or, like me, improving brain function and energy, search for information linking exercise to the benefits you want. The knowledge alone will motivate you more than you know.
2. Try a lot of different types of exercising to figure out what works best for you. There are so many ways to be active, too many to list here, but in general there are: fitness classes, gym memberships, DVD's, fitness TV channels, running clubs, biking, self-defense classes, iPad apps, and more.
In addition to enjoying the benefits, you'll want to enjoy the activity itself. Figure out if you prefer working out alone or with others. Do you need a gym atmosphere or prefer your home? Do you enjoy cardio or weights? Do you like machines or doing movements on a mat (e.g. Yoga)? Explore and narrow.
3. Discover your college facilities. Many community colleges have fitness equipment or even a gym that can be used by its students. Find out if your college has a place to exercise and take full advantage of it. (One community college gym helped a student lose over 210 lbs). To get some of the most immediate brain/energy benefits, try doing a light work out before class or before going into the library to do homework.
4. Start with an 'easy' commitment. The benefits of exercise happen when it becomes a habit, a routine. So to avoid the danger of giving up when something is too big, choose an easy starting point you know you can accomplish without fail for a month or two, something like 50 sit-ups every other day or 20 jumping jacks every morning - start small. Write it down, post it up, and do at least the minimum, which will usually inspire you to do more.
Your brain will thank you :)