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Stress, Exercise, and GPA

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Laudita A. Kuswanto
Food for Thought: Omnivore’s Dilemma
Prof. Peter Brodfuehrer
Assignment #5
Stress, Exercise, and GPA
Being away from home and living in a new place are definitely the two hardest things that the majority of college students are dealing with. Most of the time, they are overwhelmed by the “unknown” college life that they now have to face. They are expected to be independent and able to make decisions for themselves. Besides that, they are torn between time management and achieving well in college. In consequence, they tend to forget the most important thing that they have to do in order to stay healthy and fit, which is exercise. The very cliché and common excuse is that they have no time to exercise. College work is taking most of their time and they barely have time to sleep, then why bother doing exercise? The workload is stressing enough that they are physically too tired to exercise. The question is, is it true that exercising will only add more stress on college students? What can actually they benefit from exercising? Is not exercising the best decision that a college student may choose?
As stated above, stress is something inevitable when someone goes to college. Sooner or later, a college student will undergo the stage of being “stressed out” where they feel that their world is crumbling down in a manner that is totally unexpected. College life does not seem as beautiful as they pictured and the workload is forcing them to enjoy only 3-5 hours of sleep every day. They are getting bored of the readings and assignments that they have to do and studying for the coming exams. How do college students actually deal with the overwhelming stress?
According to the finding from a recent survey by Experience Inc, about 25% of college students from around the country turn to exercise to help them relieve the stress from juggling work and school ( The majority of respondent (in this case those who exercise), 51%, reported that they exercise three or more times a week, with approximately 40% exercising at a fitness club or facility. Approximately 20% of college students combat stress by watching television or listening to music, 17% by talking with friends or family, and 9% by cleaning and organizing their cars and apartments. What about the other 29% of college students? Unfortunately, they decided not to do anything to de-stress.
Exercise does more than de-stressing yourself. Research finds vigorous exercise equals better academics ( According to some research, exercise helps to stimulate our gray matter to produce Miracle-Gro for the brain. Miracle-Gro is a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotropic factor, or BDNF. The working muscles will send chemicals into our bloodstream, including a protein known as IGF-1 when we exercise. IGF-1 will stimulate the production of more BDNF which will help new neurons and their connections grow. In addition, levels of other neurotransmitters are increased after a strenuous exercise session. Certain hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, nerophinephrine are elevated after exercise which means that a workout will help focus, calming down, and impulsivity.
The other research shows the correlation between fitness scores and test scores. Those students who were deemed fit by a standard test of aerobic capacity, BMI, abdominal strength, trunk strength, upper body strength and overall flexibility scored twice as well on academic tests as those that were unfit. This explains why most of the time student-athletes do better in class and have better GPA compared to students who do not do any sports. For all these reasons, college students should do more exercises to have a “better” college life for exercise does not only combat stress, but can also make students perform better academically. Finding some time to exercise really is not that hard. What we need is just commitment and strong will.
For myself, I think that I stand in the 25% category that turn to exercise to de-stress. I personally second the outcomes from the research which said that exercise will help you to perform better academically. I find myself able to concentrate and focus more during the lecture. I believe that I have made a good decision by exercising and I am looking forward to getting good GPA.