Fitness classes relieve student stress, decrease health issues

spinning class
Sholten Singer
Students warm up during Tuesday’s express spin class at the Marshall Recreation Center. Spinning is just one of the many classes offered this semester.
As college students, it is not uncommon to feel stressed, worn out or sometimes downright depressed. Carrying the responsibilities that come along with college are a heavy load. Studies show that exercise is a great way to bring those who are down back up.

According to the American Psychological Association, or APA, stress can lead to increased health and physical problems and a decreased sense of “well being and satisfaction of life.”

Exercise can also help combat depression, aid sleep and enhance mental health and mood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can “help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age.”

Lauryn McHenry, graduate student studying reading education from Mineral Wells, W.Va,, said exercise is a great form of stress relief.

“I always feel better after working out,” McHenry said.

 While running on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine at the gym is more convenient, group workouts are more effective than working out alone.  Studies consistently show that those who workout with others are happier and more likely to continue the routine compared to those who workout alone, according to the APA.

Heather Smith, assistant director of the Marshall Recreation Center said many of the group fitness programs offered at the recreation center are designed toward stress relief.

Smith said group fitness classes are more beneficial than working out alone because they give students a chance to learn new things, meet new people, make new friends and create a support system within the group.

“When you learn a new skill while you workout, it’s good for your self-confidence,” Smith said. “It feels really good when you start a new yoga class, for example, and you can do all these new balance and flexibility poses you couldn’t do before.”

Elaine Darling, yoga instructor at the Marshall Recreation Center, said yoga classes are very effective stress relievers.

“I definitely think yoga helps manage stress,” Darling said. “All it is is just focusing on your breathing, and the more you focus on that breathing, the more meditative it becomes. It’s just as relaxing as a massage.”

Michelle Reddington, Zumba instructor at the recreation center, said group Zumba classes are a great way to have fun and relieve stress at the same time.

“Exercise makes you feel better,” Reddington said. “Even if I’ve had a long day and I’m tired by the evening, I always look forward to teaching Zumba. The room is packed, the music is loud, everyone is dancing their butts off and laughing about it.”

Smith said the top four stress reducing group fitness classes offered at the recreation center include yoga, spinning, kickboxing and Zumba.