Art by Ally Armstrong
There’s a plethora of evidence for the benefits of a regular gym routine, but having a healthy lifestyle is more than going to the gym.
Regular exercise can have the same effect as antidepressant medication, according to Harvard Medical School. A study from Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology found it can boost the brain’s ability to retain new information. Another 2018 study from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed it can also help with living longer.
Some readers may already be afforded these benefits, as it is not uncommon for Pepperdine students to spend at least an hour a day at Firestone Fieldhouse or at other places on campus engaging in regular exercise. Some students, however, foster a problematic dependence on their exercise routine.
The gym closed on Thursday, Aug. 29 due to a water leak and a rat problem and students felt as if they were done a disservice. The gym is small compared to those of other national universities, and for it to be closed during only a few weeks into the semester added insult to the injury. The reactions against the gym closing exposed an underlying problem at the heart of college life: a lack of holistic wellness.
Holistic wellness consists of many different pillars: solid relationships, proper nutrition and hydration, adequate sleep, regular exercise, as well as spiritual and occupational fulfillment. Wellness depends on maintaining balance in all of these factors. The job of human beings is to make all these pillars as strong as possible.
Often, when lacking in one pillar, it’s easy to compensate by going to the extremes of another. Not feeling well from that night out this weekend? Do a three-hour treadmill blast or fast for a day. Either (or both) will work — one will look good and maybe even feel better for a while — but what happens when one starts to depend on this? When it becomes your weekly routine? How healthy will one be then?
If someone is pulling frequent all-nighters and binging on junk food, going to the gym to make up for those choices will be as effective as trying to fix a shattered window with a Band-Aid. Putting all of one’s faith in one single pillar is not enough to have a healthy lifestyle.
If students’ overall health took a nosedive as a result of the gym being closed, what does that say about how they’re handling the other pillars of their wellness? Is it healthy to have one’s entire well-being dependent upon that one hour a day in the gym?
Surveys show that only 18.6% of Americans have a gym membership. After graduation, how many students will be in that minority paying for a gym membership? If they choose not to pay for a membership, what will they do when they can no longer rely on regular exercise to maintain their physical condition?
College students are not monks. They’ll never be able to achieve perfection in every single pillar of your health. This is the reason that striving for holistic health is essential; if one pillar falls, the others can take over. In the ensuing chaos of everyday life, this is the most sustainable (and perhaps the hardest) objective to strive for.
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