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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Health Services – Exercise

You’re tired from study or work – it’s been a long day. You know you should probably make the most of that gym membership or Zumba session card or even head out for a jog, but nah, maybe you’ll get up nice and early tomorrow morning when the weather’s a bit better…Or maybe tomorrow evening instead…

When the outside temperature is less-than-balmy, the wind howling or the rain thrashing the motivation required to get that body movin’ can be somewhat in lacking. We all know exercise is pretty good for us, right? Aside from the obvious effects of fitness and weight reduction, did you know that exercise can also help you with:
Your bowels: A recent study has shown that increasing one’s physical activity levels can be effective in decreasing the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (Johannesson et al. 2011). This is a chronic condition which causes discomforting symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. If symptoms persist—make an appointment with your doctor.

Pain control: Physical activity produces those good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. These are so strong that they decrease pain perception levels in the brain, i.e. acting as the body’s natural painkillers particularly for musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain (Linton, Hellsing and Bergström, 1996).

Your mood: Being at university can be tough at times and stress can play a big part in the life of a student, whether from assignments, exams or home-sickness. In addition to acting as a healthy distraction, exercise can lift low moods and assist with the relief of depression. This is due to the release of endorphins, and other feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline. In some instances, exercise can be as effective in treating depression as medication (Stein and Motta, 1992).

For women—Menstruation symptoms: A study involving 250 University students has indicated that 90 minutes of exercise, twice per week at 50-70 per cent of maximum heart rate can be effective in reducing symptoms associated with menstruation. These included psychological and physical premenstrual symptoms and menstrual cramps (Jahromi et al., 2008).

The general rule for adults to maintain health is 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. heartfoundation.org.nz/uploads/A5_Physical_Activity_08_06.pdf . Some sources recommend 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days a week, plus muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

Hopefully the above evidence can provide a little extra motivation to get you going on those days when you just don’t feel like it.
How to increase your activity?
• Do your own thing – go for a walk or a run, or race your flatmates around the block or up the stairs.
• Check out the Recreation Centre on the Kelburn or Pipitea campus union.vuw.ac.nz/reccentre The friendly staff members are there to help you if you need it!
• Health/Counselling/Recreation Centre offer a supported exercise programme for students with low mood and motivation – ‘Lifting Our Spirits’ victoria.ac.nz/st_services/counselling/resources/healthy-minds-at-vic.pdf
• Join one of the many sports clubs on campus vuwsa.org.nz/clubs/clubs-directory/

If you have any questions about previous injuries or your ability to exercise contact us at the Physiotherapy Clinic on Level One of the Student Union building.

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