It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of exercising – the last time I purposefully decided to exercise was about five years ago, and I get winded climbing the stairs to Harris Hall. Even though exercise has never been something I specialize in, the idea of girls exercising to be thin has always baffled me.
Many times when I see people performing some sort of monotonous exercise, all I see are dull eyes, pained expressions and sweat-soaked clothes. This is not the way it should be. The goal of exercise should always be to have fun – not to burn calories. Exercising for fun will result in being healthy and thin anyway, so why not enjoy what you’re doing?
Girls who beat themselves up over missing a day at the gym or stress about eating two cookies in one day can be on the fast track to over-exercising. It’s important to prioritize your health over your looks, because reversing these priorities can be dangerous.
This tendency to over-exercise – especially on college campuses – contributes to the prevalence of eating disorders. As young people, we tend to obsess over how we look.
According to an article by Medical News Today, “If you exercise frequently because you enjoy it and you like the health benefits it provides, you have the right reasons in mind. If you exercise because you feel compelled to do so, and in spite of having injuries, you may be at risk for developing an exercise disorder.”
This eating disorder, known as exercise bulimia, is less notorious than anorexia but still dangerous. It can lead to decreased performance, fatigue, reproductive problems, depression, anxiety and even fat gain. According to a CBS news story on the disorder, Dr. Maryanne Rosenthal of Casa Palmera in San Diego says, “People think they get a pass because they’re not vomiting, they’re not taking laxatives, so [they think] they’re not really purging.”
Of course everyone who exercises to lose weight will not develop an eating disorder – that would be absurd. However, exercising with this specific goal in mind can be a slippery slope. Likewise, disguising exercise as something fun can be more productive than forcing yourself to run on a treadmill.
Weinberg junior Erin Quick loves exercising because it helps her feel less stressed and more confident. She plays lacrosse, swims, runs and lifts weights at the gym.
“I started lacrosse my sophomore year of high school and was completely hooked,” Quick says. “I think team sports are a great way to have a good time with friends, or even a good way to make friends.”
Quick says she also enjoys the way she feels after she exercises. She says, “I always say ‘I love endorphins, couldn't live without 'em.’”
Weinberg sophomore Sanchita Kanthadai, who joined the rugby team this year, recommends joining a club team as a fun way to exercise.
“I always wanted to try rugby but never had the time to join the team at my high school,” Kanthadai says. “I love meeting new people, and the girls on the team seemed really welcoming.”
Exercising to be fit leads to a more fun and an overall healthier lifestyle. We should all try to be more like the girl who says, “I joined the rugby team this year because it sounded fun” instead of the girl who says, “Ugh, I gained a pound, because I haven’t been to the gym in two days.”