Everyone has heard at some point or another that daily exercise makes us happier and healthier. But does it actually make high schoolers happier?
On one end of the spectrum, exercise is proven to release dopamine (the “happy” feeling) into your brain. This results in an effect called the “runner’s high,” where you feel happy after exercise.
Normally, high schoolers have a harder time balancing regular exercise with homework and school stress. With remote learning, high school students have time for exercise: biking, running, walking, hiking, skateboarding and even rollerblading.
Even sports, which obviously have exercise as part of it, can be stressful for high schoolers. These roadblocks can lead to a procrastination of exercise in general, since exercise outside of school for high schoolers is mostly provided for in sports, especially if it seems more stressful than laying around actually getting homework done.
“[Exercise] can stress me out, especially if I’m really low on mileage for the week, but I try not to stress too much,” said Helena Bunte, part of the Leesville Road High School track team.
Although many find it hard to go find exercise, as procrastination takes over, it can actually clear your head and make you feel better. “I don’t like getting ready to go exercise, but I always feel so much better after,” said Claire Theunissin, student at LRHS.
Most high schoolers see exercise as something they have to do to stay in shape or to be able to eat sweets and watch TV, which makes it more of a burden than it actually is. “I feel really accomplished after [exercise],” said Bunte.
It’s more procrastination than anything. Just the thought of getting out of that chair watching Netflix is so hard to many highschoolers and can override the joy and happiness exercise brings.
If high schoolers could just get off the procrastination train and go out to exercise, they would find it actually enjoyable. “Exercising makes me a lot happier, because it helps me to destress and not think about school or other things,” said Bunte.
Everyone needs stress relief, and exercise can provide that for some people. It’s a healthy way to vent after a long day, and although it can be hard to motivate yourself for exercise, the mental relief it brings is such a reward. “When I exercise I just want to feel better and healthier,” said Theunissin.
Access to a gym or places to exercise is also a problem for some high schoolers. It causes stress to kids who maybe can’t afford a gym membership or who lack transportation to a gym.
The amount of exercise also affects whether it makes a difference or not in happiness. It is important to have consistent exercise to really make an impact on mental and emotional health. “I go to the gym about 4 times a week,” said Theunissin.
Theunissin also has a part-time job, showing the necessary balance between exercise and after-school activities.
Bunte volunteers every friday at Hope Reigns, and she also balances her time to do something that is important to her (running). “During school I exercise 4-6 days a week, and over summer I try to exercise everyday.”
To be able to exercise effectively, it is important to also set goals. “My goals are to lose weight but also gain some muscle and be healthier,” said Theunassin. Everyone might have different goals that are special to them. Some could be to go to the gym 2 times a week or to try and lift weights once a month.
Some tips to help with procrastination is to think about things in steps, not as a whole activity. For example, if you wanted to go out to the gym and run, the first step would be getting on exercise clothes. The next step would be driving to the gym, etc.
Don’t get overwhelmed with your schedule, just exercise when you can. “Exercising doesn’t stress me out because I only do it when I want to and don’t schedule it,” said Theunissin.
Either way, the benefits outweigh the stress of exercise when there is a consistent effort put into it, and can make highschoolers happier. The building up of stress going into exercise can also lead to the release of more stress during exercise, and a greater reward.