JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY

Every day, we are bombarded with demands to improve our lifestyles backed up by years of constantly morphing research. If we don’t exercise, we’re told, we will suffer physically, be diagnosed with irreversible disease, gain weight, and disappoint our families and friends.

This attempt to spread the message of living a healthier lifestyle using fear is ineffective. The fear boils up temporarily in the reader, but quickly simmers back down when the message fizzles away and is replaced by a new one.

Instead of retreading those traditional arguments for why you should participate in a sport, make trips to the gym, or enroll in a fitness class, I prefer to tackle the issue by looking at the immediate effects that participants will experience. Getting active can have a positive effect on all elements of your life.

Physical and mental health

It is obvious that physical activity improves physical health, and it has started to become common knowledge that these benefits extend to the mind. We are normally told of the long-term benefits of athletics — but noticing the short-turn effects can have more of an impact on our motivation to get fit.

Once you start being active, carrying a heavy bag of books, walking up a few flights of stairs, and running to catch a bus become less strenuous. These may not seem to be significant improvements in your daily life, but they do allow you to start living more comfortably, marking the beginning of your being healthier, and ultimately motivating you to stay active. Additionally, you will feel more alert and awake within the first few workouts.

Studies have also shown that exercise can help reduce mental health problems ranging from stress and anxiety to depression. Whether or not you experience these conditions, though, exercise will have a positive effect on your mental health. You will feel happier, more energetic, and more alert in your daily life, and if you stop exercising for a short period of time, you will notice a change.

Academics

Distinctions are commonly made between academics and athletics, but the two can support and improve one another.

Along with sports’ positive impact on mental health which translates to higher concentration levels and thus academic performance, other elements can help even more significantly.

By scheduling time to be active, you are taking a step towards practicing better organization and time management. Doing so will leave you better able to sort through your to-do lists and manage your time.

With the combination of increased concentration, reduced stress and anxiety, and better time management skills, you will be able to improve your academics and other work significantly.

Social life

Exercise can also help you better your social life and broaden your social circle. If you are on a team, the change is quick. Depending on your commitment to the sport, your teammates can act as the drinking buddies who you see once a week or a second family that supports you on and off the field. Either way, you will meet people with passions and stories that differ significantly from your own.

Additionally, with the rise of social media’s involvement in athletics and exercise, it is easy to find a virtual community with which you can connect to gain support, tips, and motivation. With a hashtag, you can connect with thousands who are on the same route as yourself. You will have access to a community that understands your struggles and successes that can help you in a multitude of ways in a variety of areas.

General balance

Sports and athletics have become an integral component of my life. I’m fit and healthy, achieved success in school, shared these passions with those less fortunate than myself, gained a family that spans across the world, and learned to balance the variety of commitments in my life.

Even before noticing the positive changes in your health, deciding to pursue athletics demonstrates a commitment to reaching a goal. Once you start, you will gain the body and mind needed to make important changes that will benefit you in your short- and long-term future. You can externalize these benefits into a broader sphere and take control of your life in an effective and powerful way. After making the decision to turn athletics into a regular part of your life, you will be able to find balance in other areas as well.

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