Move Your Body (Your Mind Will Thank You)
Holly Costar, Ph.D.

If you’ve ever read a magazine article about exercise, you’ve probably heard that working out can lead to “flat abs” and “a firm, toned butt.” But did you know that exercise can also have positive benefits for your mind and emotional state?

Research has found that physically active people generally have higher self esteem and enjoy more positive moods than those who are not active. In fact, regular exercise can be really helpful in dealing with anxious or depressed feelings or for bouncing back after a stressful day. There’s even increasing evidence that aerobic exercise is associated with maintaining a sharp mind and a keen memory, both of which would certainly be useful when you’re studying for your final exams.

My Idea of exercise is a good brisk sit.
~ Phyllis Diller

Increasing Your Activity Level

Start small. Clean your room instead of sitting down while watching TV. Park your car at the far end of the lot so you walk further. Slowly increase your level of activity and don’t beat yourself up because you’re walking instead of sprinting. You’re just starting out and some exercise is much better than no exercise.

Think about what’s good for you in the long run. Often when we’re stressed, we tend to reach for quick relief (be it through a bag of cookies, a couple of beers, or zoning out in front of a TV or computer) instead of releasing the tension through working out. This is fine sometimes, but if you do it every time, it can become a not-so-helpful habit. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is good for you in the long run or just good for the moment.

Adopt a new identity. Commit to a new view of yourself as “a person who exercises.” Hold onto this identity and know that, even if you get the flu and don’t exercise for three weeks, you will eventually start again because exercise is something you value in your life.

Make use of your resources. The University has so many fun exercise options available. Swim at the pool, lift weights, or attend a yoga class at the brand new Campus Recreation facility. Or try the rock climbing wall or a skiing, hiking, or kayaking trip with Maine Bound. And make sure to surround yourself with people who hold healthy attitudes about fitness and who will support you in your goal to become a more active person.


  • Campus Recreation hosts weekly classes ranging from yoga to kickboxing to belly dancing.
  • Maine Bound has Thursday night discounts on the Climbing Wall.
  • Intermural teams include basketball, dodgeball, volleyball, softball and ultimate frisbee.