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Exercise is an important aspect of maintaining emotional health.

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With the demands of college life, you might think you don’t have any time left for exercise in your schedule. Or maybe you hate to exercise because you see it as a chore or boring activity. But there are tons of ways to be active — and ways to fit exercise into your day. Here’s a closer look at why being active is so good for you:

Benefits of Exercise

Improves mood and mental health. Exercise promotes chemicals in the brain that improve your mood and make you more relaxed. Specifically, the brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins throughout the body. Physical activity reduces anxiety and depressed mood, and enhances self-esteem.

Boosts energy and brainpower. College requires a fair amount of energy and lots of brainpower to keep up with classes and other activities. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain and various tissues. This means you can concentrate better and think clearly. Plus, because exercise helps your lungs and heart, you have more energy to do other things.

Prevents and fights illness. Consistent exercise helps stave off high blood pressure and reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancers, osteoporosis, strokes and heart disease. Exercise also reduces colds and the flu.

Reduces stress. Physical activity decreases the amount of stress hormones your body releases, so you feel calmer overall. Plus, some exercise slows down both blood pressure and heart rate.

Helps with sleep. Exercise helps you fall asleep faster and improves the quality of your slumber. However, be sure you’ve stopped exercising at least three hours before bedtime so you aren’t too alert and energized when it’s time for bed.

Get tips on creating and maintaining an exercise routine.