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An Underrated Form of Self Care: Physical Activity

I remember standing alone in my dorm after my parents left after move-in, the humid end-of-summer air filtered through the ever-so-slightly-opened window and a sudden stillness after a weekend of orientation in which there was no stillness to be found.  It was a sobering moment, where I was faced with the reality of a drastic lifestyle change.  

I was rather emotionally conflicted, a mix of excitement and melancholy.  I missed my hometown, the family and friends that came with that hometown and the simplicity of taking a casual drive and knowing the route as well as the back of my hand.  

As I stood there, I felt for the first time in my life that I truly did not know what I was supposed to do next. And then I went for a run. As I ran throughout campus, I felt my worries dissipate with every step I took.  

I saw the colorful hydrangeas planted by the Connelly Center, the stained glass windows on St. Thomas and the opportunities for new beginnings written across the faces of smiling students assimilating into the beautiful place that is Villanova. I ended my run physically fatigued, but more energized than I had been since I first arrived on campus. 

Whether you choose to run, lift weights or go for a simple walk, the opportunity you have to transform not only your physical health but your entire perspective as a Villanova student is colossal. 

We are physically capable creatures, both designed and destined for movement. To deny ourselves the gift of physical exercise negates the unlimited potential we have for greatness in all areas of our life.  

Often, we tend to view “self-care” as watching the newest season of our favorite Netflix series, ordering a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or scrolling endlessly on TikTok. Interestingly enough, all of these actions are often antithetical to the true definition of “self-care.”  

We tend to spend hours upon hours looking at technology as a method of “resting” from the difficult math problems or strenuous essay writing we completed that day, but in doing so, we are not truly allowing our minds to recover.  

However, by rewriting the narrative on what caring for ourselves looks like and viewing exercise as a necessary form of self-care, you will be able to effectively channel your anxious energy into a beneficial activity with endless advantages. If you take a closer look at what you currently consider to be self-care, you may find that these habits are further fueling the demise of your academic, social and general wellbeing. 

Fellow runner, freshman Julia Zensius, has similar views on the positive impact running has had on the beginning of her undergraduate career. 

“Running helps me relieve stress, especially on days where I have a packed schedule,” Zensius said. “It is truly therapeutic and doesn’t require me to expend mental energy, which is a necessary reprieve from my expectations as a student.”

All of this is not to say that physical activity is the solution to all stressors, but I urge readers to consider lacing up their sneakers for the many benefits running boasts.  Whether it be a quarter mile jog, a mile sprint or a marathon, running outdoors will boost your health and wellbeing through Vitamin D exposure, increased cardiovascular health and stress reduction.   At the end of the day, we cannot perform our best in all facets of our lives if we are not taking care of the vessel that does so much for us. 

To conclude in the infamous words of Socrates, “It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

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