By Mina Todosijevic

Finally! Part two of the Healthy Living mini-series, which began with a post on food and nutrition.

In addition to eating well, regular exercise has many often-overlooked benefits, and is something you need to make time for in your everyday life.

People running

Photo Credit: Warein

I always put off exercise in the interest of cramming in one extra hour of studying. However, the dichotomy between brains and brawn paints a false opposition between the two characteristics. Exercise affects the brain and the body in ways which will boost your ability to focus and remember.

  • Exercise increases levels of BDNF, which is a brain-derived protein linked to “decision-making, higher thinking and learning.”
  • Improves memory: cardiovascular exercise increases people’s ability to remember information by boosting production of cells in the hippocampus.
  • Boosts productivity: According to, people who make time for exercise are “more productive and have more energy than their…sedentary peers”.


While exercising outside multiplies the benefits of exercise through interaction with nature (source), the reality of living in Toronto means sub-zero temperatures can be expected at least for the next two months. Never fear! You don’t have to wait that long to get in shape! As a U of T student, you have access to the AC, Hart House Gym and Goldring Centre as well as the UTM and UTSC gyms.

For those of you who are not huge fans of running and machines, all of these places offer regular classes. Classes are so great for passing time as well as challenging you to work your body in new ways. I’m a huge fan of the Zumba classes, which are basically like a very exhausting dance party. Off campus, Yorkville’s Lululemon offers free classes on Sunday mornings.

Women playing basketball

Photo Credit: Ralph Alversen

After high school, talk about fitness emphasizes activities which can be boring and exhausting for some, things you should do because you have to. Post-gym class, many people don’t have an easy opportunity to participate in sports, which are still workouts! Thankfully, we are not most people! There are intra-mural teams run by the AC and sign up is still going on for some sports. If commitment is not your thing, drop-in games are available.

U of T offers a fantastic variety of ways to get in shape. With all the benefits working out has on your academic and physical lives, I highly recommend making time to exercise this semester.