Chiseled muscles glistening with sweat stormed through Madison over the weekend. Competing in the annual Ironman Wisconsin competition, men and women in prime physical shape took a stab at the grueling trifecta of swimming, cycling and running. Many took to the streets in amazement just to watch the incredible display of strength and grit dominating the downtown district. The sheer pool of talent makes this event a national hallmark.
For most of us, however, we have neither the immense timetable to give for grueling exercise or the correct assortment of genes to place us among the world’s elite. Yet, there is an important lesson for all university students, and indeed all people, to take to heart: Exercise matters. Exercise is the gateway into a multitude of benefits that each and every single one of us can claim.
First, and most obvious, exercise keeps you healthy. Moderate or vigorous exercise burns fat and calories, staving off the precursors of heart disease, stroke and a variety of cancers. All of us are subject to get sick at one point or another, but exercising on a regular basis fortifies our immune systems, reducing both the length and severity of sicknesses. Furthermore, maintaining fitness allows people to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
For many teens and young adults, including me as well, it’s more likely for us to pull an all-nighter than sleep a solid eight hours per night. Regular exercise flips that on its head because people can better conquer their daily drowsiness and rest peacefully at night.
If more sleep hasn’t already drawn your attention, knowing that it improves mood certainly will. Physical workouts release an assortment of chemicals in the brain that make people leaving more bright and optimistic about the upcoming day. Additionally, exercise molds the body into a leaner, sleeker machine. Looking good and feeling good is an unmatchable confidence boost for people everywhere.
S how do you get there? First, exercise is a priority, and as with any priority, time must be set aside to make that priority a possibility. People most commonly carve out an early morning or late afternoon timeslot in their schedule for the purpose of exercise. Do it when it’s most convenient for you, but know it is a priority and that it must remain.
The next step is to decide what you want to do and where that’ll be. If you haven’t worked out in a while, I encourage you to start small and gain endurance by building up. This can be done by walking, jogging, biking or working out with dumbbells and barbells.
Everyone is unique, and certainly there is a variety of choices at your disposal. The university campus has several workout facilities available, including the Natatorium, Ogg Hall Fitness Center and the Shell. Be sure to take to look at open hours for each and plan your schedule accordingly.
All said, exercising on a regular basis is a long-term commitment that pays extraordinary short-term and long-term benefits. It will be tough, but there are so many more silver linings than what immediately meets the eye.
Exercise is holistically beneficial mentally, emotionally and physically. It is therapy for the heart and food for the soul. And who knows, perhaps one day you’ll be motivated enough to compete in an Ironman competition of your own.
Michael Sauer ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science.