By Henry Zheng

Exercise is known to have many benefits such as better physique, cardiovascular health and a longer life. However, to a few dedicated athletes, there are other numerous non-physical benefits that motivate them.

Perhaps the most obvious and well known benefit of exercise is mental health. There is no doubt that hard exercise helps one develop their mental toughness.

“When you’re running like 15 miles or biking 100 miles, it makes everything in life seem not as big,” says photography teacher and Iron Man athlete Ian Tippets, who has competed in multiple marathons and triathlons.

Along with improving mental toughness, exercise can also relieve a lot of pent-up stress from our everyday lives and motivate us to be productive as we push temporary problems out of the way.

“I’ve found that exercising has made my mind clearer. An hour at the gym or a quick running session never fails to help take my mind off of whatever is troubling me and gives me motivation to keep pushing on at the same time,” explains senior Thomas Chan.

Improving mental toughness also helps one develop better habits to help them stay more organized and get more out of their day, which is especially important for students who want to be on their A-game.

“I believe that exercise makes me more disciplined. I have to stick to a schedule and manage my time properly to juggle school, work and exercise,” says PHHS alumni Iris Wu, who is now on the triathlon team at UCSB.

If these benefits don’t interest the average person enough, exercise can also make you feel “high”. For those who love those dopamine or endorphin rushes, exercise can also do the same.

An article on Runnersworld.com describes how runners can get “runner’s high” after or during running many miles, as the brain releases endorphins to cope with the body’s pain. This high has the ability to temporarily numb your pain and in fact turn you into a productive beast.

Along with getting you high, exercising also has the potential to greatly increase your overall mood, which can trickle down to other aspects of your life. An article written by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states how the center actually promotes exercise as a way to treat clinical depression and reduce anxiety. Not only do people feel happier overall, but these same people are also less likely to get sick because less stress constitutes a stronger immune system.

All these benefits are great, but how does one start exercising? Many struggle to even go outside, let alone run or bike a few miles. As intimidating as exercising seems, nothing is impossible, and with a little bit of effort and patience even just a five-minute walk could work wonders if done consistently.

“Consistency is key, (and) it’s okay to start small and build up slowly, but make sure you stick with it,” explains Iris.

Taking things slow and breaking down workouts slowly are key tips that will help anybody get on the right track. There will be days where you just want to quit everything entirely and remain a couch potato the rest of your life. When those days come along, just remember the importance of what you’re doing and the whole gravity that exercising has on your life.

“Many things will change in your life, but your health will (always) follow you wherever you go. Taking care of your body, both physically and mentally, should always be your first priority,” urges Iris.

From strengthening one’s mind to greatly improving one’s daily routine, work ethic and overall happiness, exercise has the ability to completely flip your life around and should be incorporated into your daily routine.

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