College is a stressful time because it is a very demanding time. If you are going to school full-time, you are going to be spending all day in classes that move much faster than your high school classes, you will have a lot of reading and writing to do, and you will have some very rigorous exams to take on a regular basis. It’s also a time when most people start taking on several new adult responsibilities, like shopping, cooking, cleaning and making all kinds of personal decisions. On top of all of this, some college students also need to maintain a part-time job in order to pay the bills. As much as you might think that you don’t have time for exercise while you’re in college, you’re actually in need of it much more than ever. Here are the mental benefits of exercise for college students.

Clear Your Mind

Exercise is extremely important for college students because they are given a lot of information to process each and every day, and sometimes the brain just gets frazzled trying to hold on to it all. When you exercise, you are able to concentrate your energy on one idea or feeling as you tune into your physical experience. If you don’t take this time to clear your mind and let it refresh, all the information in your brain won’t be able to settle.

Release Endorphins

When you are stressed out, your brain starts releasing a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is very damaging to the brain and it contributes to a panicked feeling. However, when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which counter the cortisol by giving one a natural feeling of euphoria.

Increase Your Concentration

Studies show that the brain works much more quickly and efficiently after one has engaged in physical activity. If the body doesn’t get exercise, it starts to get restless, making it difficult for one to concentrate. You may not like getting up early, but if you get up just 30 minutes earlier than normal, you can get your day started with a 20-minute jog before your first class and really wake up your brain.

Sleep Better

If you’re earning a difficult degree, like USC’s GIS certificate, then you may be behind on sleep and feeling exhausted. Even if you are exhausted, it’s not uncommon for a person to have trouble sleeping at night. If you want to ensure that you fall fast asleep each night, make sure that you push yourself physically in some way each and every day. The longer and the deeper you sleep each night, the easier it will be to focus your mind each day.

Maintain Self-esteem

Looking and feeling fit contributes to a much better sense of self-esteem. If you start to feel tired and ashamed of your body, then it will be difficult for you to feel and project confidence to others. Feeling a strong sense of confidence is important if you want to perform well in your classes, get along with other coeds, and enjoy your life overall. After all, aren’t you supposed to look your best while you’re in college?