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Winter blues got you down?

Exercise is good for the soul

By Gabby Carlson | Echo

It’s February now and everyone has gotten over their New Year’s Resolutions. If you are one of the strong ones and are still eating spinach, running daily or sleeping eight hours a night, I applaud you. But most of us have most likely decided that 2020 will be our year to care for ourselves well at last.

My challenge to you is to make 2019 your year for health, even if you take baby steps. Overall emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health is not only beneficial to your body, but it will begin to transcend into other areas in your life as well.

The Well provides a safe place for students to exercise.

The Well provides a safe place for students to exercise.

The winter months are a weird time in the Midwest. You go outside, but the windchill is almost always below freezing so you run from place to place or, if you can, you drive, bundled in several layers of clothing. So, how are you receiving the sunlight you need?

According to an article by Time Magazine, sunlight directly affects your mood. A study done showed that people who received an abundance of sunlight in the morning were more alert and energetic than those who didn’t get the same exposure. Exposure to sunlight releases a hormone in your brain called serotonin. When less serotonin is produced, your mood decreases significantly, and this is thought to be linked to depression.

Getting sun is a very important component to a person’s overall mental health. It cannot be the only measure taken in this decision made to be healthy. Being active in any capacity is important for your body’s overall physical and mental health as well.

Physical exercise can also be viewed as a form of worship.

Dawn Anderson, professor of kinesiology, believes being good stewards of our bodies is a form of glorifying God.

One of my favorite quotes on this is from Julie Walton: ‘When we fail to use any gift God gives us . . . in this case, the gift of physical movement, what then,’” Anderson said. “The gift withers. Such neglect – this refusal to move and have our being – dissolves our physical ability to come and go, to give and serve. In a word, we severely impair our ability to be fully fruitful in meeting God’s call and claim on our time, our work, and our lives.’”

Every day activity is ideal, but working your body moderately to intensely three days a week is suggested. When you exercise, chemicals known as endorphins are produced, which are products of the central nervous system that boost your overall mood.

Zack Carter, assistant professor of communication, finds an early morning workout to be a beneficial way to de-stress, unwind and begin his day with his wife before parting ways for work.

“Being an active weight lifter for over 15 years, I’ve found the health and spiritual benefits to be invaluable, such as physiological conditioning, mental health management and worship time with Christ through my ear-buds,” Carter said.

Physical activity is not always a six mile run. It is a brisk walk or 20 minutes on a bike. When I took functional fitness last semester, we were required to log four workouts a week, two in class, two on our own. Putting this practice into a habit created a space for me four times each week to push myself and let go of everything else in my life, good and bad.

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