Exercising Toward Greater Happiness

April 19, 2021

Louis Tay

“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” – Wilhelm von Humboldt

In our academic and intellectual pursuits, it is often easy to neglect physical exercise. We can give ourselves many excuses for this neglect – a lack of time, a lack of motivation, and a lack of opportunity. After all, who has time to exercise amid all the demands of classes and assignments?

However, it is vital to remember that our physical health can be closely tied to our academic and psychological well-being. There is a good body of scientific evidence showing that physical health and physical activity help with learning and academic performance. Moreover, it is linked to greater psychological well-being.

Engaging in more daily physical activity can be challenging, but one can adopt different strategies for a more active lifestyle. The National Institutes for Health has a list of tips for keeping active. Similarly, the Mayo Clinic provides tips for finding time to exercise. They boil down to a couple of key strategies:

  1. Rethink your current routines of convenience and include more activity where possible. For example, you can use a grocery basket instead of a shopping cart. Or take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. 
  2. Dedicate time to exercise. Just as achieving academic excellence takes time, it takes time to stay physically fit. Create accountability by putting dedicated exercise times on your calendar. To create social accountability, you can invite a friend along – or ask others to check in on your progress.

While it may be challenging at first, once you ingrain the habit of being physically active, you will be more likely to maintain it – and even find greater enjoyment from it.

Be well,

Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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