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  1. Creativity: Artistic expression and creativity
  2. Emotional fix: I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it has saved my life
  3. Survival: Rule #1 of the zombie apocalypse: cardio
  4. Opportunities: A soccer scholarship
  5. Physical upgrade: Mobile for longer, maybe without canes and scooters
  6. Self-belief: Your body is a miracle
  7. Mindfulness: Be present, in the moment, feel alive

Students’ stories:

How exercise is saving my life

“As someone who has struggled with disordered eating and body image, I understand the temptation to punish my body, to push my limits in a negative sense. Physical exercise forces you to come to terms with the fact that your body is a miracle.”
— Name and college withheld

“When you get your body moving, you get closer to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.”
— Lela-Tamara F., first-year undergraduate, University of Arkansas

“The more active you are, the better you are at being active.”
— Kyle W., first-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick

“You are in a situation where you must lift a heavy block of concrete off of a youth. Luckily you have been hitting those dead lifts and squat-cleans. Your ability to save the youth earns you the title of hero in the newspaper. Had you not been able to do this, you would have been a bystander who was moderately responsible for the child’s death. The stress from this guilt will translate to disease, and you will die young because you were not physically prepared.”
— Eric V., first-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts Lowell

“Being fit is putting me through school on a track scholarship. Without that, I wouldn’t be able to afford the education I’m getting, and the alternative would look like the future that many of my high school friends are facing: unemployment, welfare, and never leaving our small town.”
— Regan Y., second-year undergraduate, Trinity Western University

“I was pre-diabetic before I started to be physically active. I am now 100 pounds lighter. My mental clarity is way better than it was before. I never thought I would hear myself say that.”
— Jennifer E., second-year undergraduate, Park University

“Exercise allows you to be free.”
— Aubrey V., first-year undergraduate, Pittsburg State University

“For an hour I have no problems.”
— Jacqueline G., second-year undergraduate, Sonoma State University

“I wanted to not live anymore, but being outside and using my body made me so happy.”
— Name and college withheld

“I was diagnosed with chronic depression as an adolescent, and looking back at the most severe bouts I have had, they all coincided with lack of exercise. Since realizing this, exercise has been an incredible deterrent for depression. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it has saved my life.”
— Name and college withheld

How important is exercise to well-being, health, and lifespan?

Bar graph

91 percent of students who responded to our survey rated the importance of exercise at 7 out of 10 or higher.

Source: Student Health 101 survey, December 2014. 2,033 students answered this question.

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