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  1. Creativity: Artistic expression and creativity
  2. Emotional fix: I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it has saved my life
  3. Survival: Rule #1 of the zombie apocalypse: cardio
  4. Opportunities: Increased confidence to try new things
  5. Physical upgrade: Mobile for longer, maybe without canes and scooters
  6. Self-belief: Your body is a miracle
  7. Mindfulness: Be present, in the moment, feel alive

Students’ stories:

How exercise is saving my life

How exercise is saving my life

“As someone who has struggled with disordered eating and body image, I understand the temptation to punish my body, to push my limits in a negative sense. Physical exercise forces you to come to terms with the fact that your body is a miracle.”
— Name and college withheld

“You are in a situation where you must lift a heavy block of concrete off of a youth. Luckily you have been hitting those dead lifts and squat-cleans. Your ability to save the youth earns you the title of hero in the newspaper. Had you not been able to do this, you would have been a bystander who was moderately responsible for the child’s death. The stress from this guilt will translate to disease, and you will die young because you were not physically prepared.”
— Eric V., first-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts Lowell

“Exercise keeps your body strong, keeps you mentally healthy, boosts mood, increases confidence, keeps you lookin’ good, and prepares you for running away from zombies (or attacking them).”
— Jordan D., part-time student, Berkshire Community College

“Exercise gives me peace and takes my stress away from me.”
— Sharon W., first-year student, Pasadena City College

“As a graduate student, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Physical exercise provides me with balance—physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
— Tiko Y., second-year graduate student, University of Victoria

“It’s my ‘time out’ to let my mind drift.”
— Melody B., graduate student at Binghamton University

“It can improve our circulation and mental health, and open us up to new experiences.”
— Susan C., second-year graduate student, University of the Pacific

“I was pre-diabetic before I started to be physically active. I am now 100 pounds lighter. My mental clarity is way better than it was before. I never thought I would hear myself say that.”
— Jennifer E., second-year undergraduate, Park University

“Other than being able to run out of the way of an approaching vehicle or large animal and keeping a healthy heart and lungs, physical exercise is also good for the brain, perhaps even staving off neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”
— Rebecca E., first-year student taking online courses, College of Southern Idaho

“As a sufferer of severe clinical depression, I have found that regular physical exercise drastically improves my mood and ability to deal with my mental illness.”
— Kayla G., first-year graduate student, University of Colorado Denver

“I wanted to not live anymore, but being outside and using my body made me so happy.”
— Name and school withheld

“I always have access to my better self after I clear my head with some exercise. I make better choices.”
— Leah G., second-year graduate student, Portland State University

How important is exercise to well-being, health, and lifespan?

Bar graph

91 percent of students who responded to our survey rated the importance of exercise at 7 out of 10 or higher.

Source: Student Health 101 survey, December 2014. 2,033 students answered this question.

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