Mind and body fitness for life-long health

By Christine Graf
September 27, 2007

Exercise can make you feel better, not only physically but mentally. According to the staff and students interviewed in the Dixon Center, there is more to physical fitness than looking good.

There seems to be an obsession in media and culture theses days that suggests that working out is primarily to become thin and in shape. In reality, exercise is more about creating a life-long pattern of good health.

Jess Huda, the fitness coordinator for the Dixon Center, said that exercise should not be directly related to weight but to improve how you feel. She suggests staying away from the scale and concentrate on staying active through activities one enjoys.

She suggests different ways to exercise to gain these benefits. “Don’t be afraid to try something different or new, such as intramural sports, exercise classes, rock climbing, or any of the other activities the Dixon Center has to offer, if the gym just is not for you,” Huda said.

Meghan O’Leary, a senior education major, agrees that being active should be a part of your everyday schedule although it can be tough living the college lifestyle. “Being active and going to the gym can be a great solution to the loss of energy and the stress created during these four years,” O’Leary said.

Exercise relieves stress. Dr. Tony Verde, an associate professor of exercise science and health promotion, said that while you exercise your blood pressure is increased creating a hypertensive environment and when you stop your blood pressure significantly decreases. Depending on how intense and long the activity is can determine how long your blood pressure stays low.

“This is why exercise works as natural medicine along with a balanced diet, which seems much better than taking some sort of pill which injects chemicals into the body,” Verde said.

Allison Gidich, a senior exercise science major, can give an example of how exercise works as a natural stress reliever. “If I have a test and am studying all day, exercise helps me relax and I can actually concentrate better.”

Exercise is not just something people do because they feel they have to; it really is beneficial and enjoyable when appropriately incorporated into one’s everyday lifestyle. People who are very active actually start to feel bad if they slack off a few days.

“When I am inactive I really do start to feel lazy and soon a few days become a week. I try not to let this happen because being on a schedule and going to the gym really makes my day much better,” Casey Kyler, an exercise science major, said.

Jose Sotillo, the aquatics director for the Dixon Center, and also a former swimmer for the Venezuela National Team, said that everyday he is always on the go and ironically working out is what calms him down and allows time for him to think.

His advice for anyone looking to start incorporating activity into their everyday life is to start slow. “It takes a while to make something habit, so it is important to not get discouraged and eventually it will be something you need as opposed to something you have to do,” Sotillo said.

Verde feels similarly. He says too much exercise can be a bad thing because your body is too busy recovering and spends less time fighting disease and regulating other health related issues. He suggests that you exercise in moderation and listen to what your body needs and how you feels.

“If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, then who is going to?” Verde said.

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Christine Graf

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