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Physical Activity and Fitness

College student’s schedules are busy and constantly changing, so it can seem difficult to find time to exercise. However, it’s important to make fitness a priority. Think of exercise as a fun activity and an investment in long-term health.  

Health Benefits Associated with Physical Activity:  
  • Improved self-confidence  
  • Better sleep 
  • Decreased chance of depression 
  • Increased mood  
  • Attain a healthy weight 
  • Increased agility  
  • Stronger muscles and bones  
  • Reduced risk of heart disease 
  • Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes 
  • Meet new people 
  • Increased chance of living longer 
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun! 
Ways exercise helps your brain stay in shape 
  • Memory. Do you have a big test you’re preparing for? Try exercising a few hours after studying.  
    • Exercising after you study can improve your ability to retain information.  
    • Regular exercise increases the volume of your prefrontal cortex, which is the area in the brain that deals with memory and thinking.  
    • Exercise can help lower risk of dementia, a condition related to memory loss. 
  • Mental health. Studies show exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Specifically, exercise reduces cortisol in the body, the body’s stress hormone. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators, in the brain. However, if you think you might be experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, make sure to talk to a health professional.  
  • Overall wellness. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, increase your energy level, and offer mental health benefits. Exercise helps you feel better all around – not just physically. 
Recommended Physical Activity 

It is recommended that young adults complete 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level or 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level ( Aerobic activity is simply brisk exercise that promotes the circulation of oxygen through the blood and is associated with an increased rate of breathing. It is best to spread aerobic activity over 3 days a week. Doing enough aerobic physical activity is extremely important to health, luckily there are a variety of activities that are considered aerobic exercise. Here are some things you can try! 

  • Walking  
  • Running  
  • Swimming  
  • Aquarobics 
  • Cycling  
  • Rowing  
  • Boxing 
  • Cardio classes 
  • Team Sports  
  • Dancing  

Approximate Calories Used per Hour in Common Physical Activities

Moderate Physical Activity Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person 1  Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person 1  
Hiking 185 370 
Light gardening/yard work 165 330 
Dancing 165 330 
Golf (walking and carrying clubs) 165 330 
Bicycling (<10 mph) 145 290 
Walking (3.5 mph) 140 280 
Weight lifting (general light workout) 110 220 
Stretching 90 180 
Vigorous Physical Activity Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person 1 Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person 1  
Running/jogging (5 mph) 295 590 
Bicycling (>10 mph) 295 590 
Swimming (slow freestyle laps) 255 510 
Aerobics 240 480 
Walking (4.5 mph) 230 460 
Heavy yard work (chopping wood) 220 440 
Weight lifting (vigorous effort) 220 440 
Basketball (vigorous) 220 440 


*Calories burned per hour will be higher for persons who weigh more than 154 lbs (70 kg) and lower for persons who weigh less. 

Source: The CDC