It’s Monday. And it’s cold. And there’s ten classes, four shifts and two meetings that I have to go too this week. Winter is a dreary time, and especially with plummeting temperatures, it’s been hard to keep myself upbeat this week. Another thing that I have dropped down on Is exercise. It’s cold, where can a place to exercise be found?

Well first of all, don’t let that second part ever get you. The Williams Center is always open and has plenty of places to get in some exercise. I love to walk and run the track in the gym, and with my fitness membership, I can go to the weight room and pool as well.

One thing that really gets to me this time of year is depression. The sky is grey, the trees are bare and its dark by 5pm. It’s really a hard cycle to break. To get some perspective, I spoke with Taylor Stevens, President of Active Minds, a Student Org.

Active Minds is a Student Org that focuses on Mental Health Advocacy. In her work, Stevens holds meetings and events to change the perception of mental health, especially focused on college environments.

Stevens told me: “In the colder seasons we see the sun less often and see our friends and family less, due to the colder weather, and it can be very isolating. A lack of sun leads to some very subtle, but serious issues in gaining motivation, being able to sleep, and feeling good.”

Exercise isn’t usually the first thing on the list of someone feeling the symptoms of depression, but it sure does help some people. Exercise has been linked with many emotional benefits, including feel-good endorphins like endogenous cannabinoids, endorphins that are linked with a human’s sense of well-being. Endorphins are also used by your brain to lower the perceived sense of pain.

In addition to your brain releasing endorphins, giving your mind something to focus on helps to alleviate heightened emotional focus. If you’re sad, and can’t stop thinking about it, maybe exercise is just the thing you need to take your mind off it. For me, focusing on something I know I can do helps create a better self-image. As students, we constantly test ourselves and expand our borders, often with varying results. After a long day of things not going my way, it’s easy to set my mind on a goal I know I am capable of. Exercise can be sort of relaxing for me, and with the right playlist, my workout isn’t work at all.

Finally, exercise has always been linked with better sleep patterns, and often if your head isn’t emotionally right, it affects your sleep. I know that during winter break I completely ruined my sleep schedule, and the first few weeks back have been tough. But with regular exercise, it’s easier to get your body into a pattern of activity and rest, and it’s easier to fall asleep when you need to be asleep.

Taking care of your body is something that gets considerably harder in winter but remains hugely important. Plenty of exercise is a key part of any healthy lifestyle, and especially helps to combat depression & stress. With benefits like easier sleep and a better focus, exercise is something successful people don’t ignore. “As college kids, we are all very busy and pushed to our limits,” says Stevens. “However, we should take breaks, take time for meditation, and take time to take care of ourselves!”

While the winter schedule looks treacherous and weary, it’s important to remember that the goals you’ve set for yourself are manageable, and you’ll always find a way to cope. Those ten classes I had this week? They suddenly shrank to just four, and I made it to the end of my week intact, thanks to a convenient snow day!  For Warhawk Fitness, this is Ethan Maurice. I hope you reach your fitness goals!

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