A new year brings new goals for many Mountaineers

Michael Lillywhite and Quadajah Rivers

2020 is the year for adventures, new goals and big plans, but one theme remains constant year to year: improving mental and physical health. App State students want to be more physically active to improve their mental health, striving for a healthy lifestyle.  

Sophomore Charlotte Davis, an interior design major, decided to start running more. 

“(Running) always seems to improve my mental health because it gives me a break from school work and gets me in shape,” Davis said. 

However, the goal to exercise more is often made not only to benefit students physically, but mentally as well.

A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that exercise not only contributes to a better physical health, but an increase in life satisfaction, cognitive functioning and psychological well-being. 

Freshman Sarah Motes, a communications major, said she believes that mental health is essential to her well-being. 

“You know how your body releases endorphins whenever you exercise? When I exercise, my body does that. I feel it because I’m happy and feel more productive throughout the day,” Motes said. 

Motes said she enjoys using the gym facilities provided on campus and uses the gym as a coping mechanism. 

“Seeing other people workout motivates me to do even better,” Motes said.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the United States experience some kind of mental illness, and 17% of youth experience some sort of mental health disorder.

To stay mentally healthy, freshman biology major Caleb Hollar is strategizing his use of social media. Hollar said he wants to “live in the moment.” 

“I don’t want to miss out on experiences because I’m busy looking at someone’s photoshopped picture of their vacation to Costa Rica,” Hollar said. “Nor do I want to spend my life looking for the approval of others in the gym of likes, comments or followers.” 

Ultimately, Hollar said he believes he will be happier overall without the constant use of social media.

According to a survey conducted by Statista, 59% of Americans want to exercise more for the new year and 54% wish to eat healthier. 

App State’s University Recreation aids students in their fitness goals through its group classes and other programming. 

Assistant Director of Fitness, Gabby Dickey said she wants to help students navigate through their fitness goals and mental well-being. 

“We collaborate with the wellness and prevention center because fitness is more than just a body thing,” Dickey said. 

Dickey couldn’t provide numerical data on how exercising is beneficial to students’ mental health on campus, but shared that the significant data is instead seen through student stories and experiences.