Stressed for tests? Study shows exercising could help

David Kimberly, the faculty adviser for Westminster’s Trail Running Club; Ryan Kruger, a club member; and Kimberly’s dog Riley run on the Burch Hollow Trail in Mill Creek Canyon. Kimberly said trail running isn’t about doing a trail as fast as possible but sharing the experience with others. Photo by Craig Knight.

David Kimberly, the faculty adviser for Westminster’s Trail Running Club; Ryan Kruger, a club member; and Kimberly’s dog Riley run on the Burch Hollow Trail in Mill Creek Canyon. Kimberly said trail running isn’t about doing a trail as fast as possible but sharing the experience with others. Photo by Craig Knight.

Millennials are one of the most stressed generations in the United States, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association.

Finding ways to cope with stress can differ from student to student. One way a group of Westminster College students manage to de-stress and blow off steam is through trail running, according to alumna Ariane Drake, the founder of Westminster’s Trail Running Club.

“I hoped that through the Trail Running Club I could not just provide an opportunity for my peers to get up into the mountains, but also show others that running can be fun,” Drake said.

Drake said she established the Westminster Trail Running Club in 2015 to provide students the opportunity to get out onto the trail and get excited for the sport.

“It’s easy to get overwhelmed at times,” said Ryan Kruger, a 19-year-old student and member of the Trail Running Club. “It’s my first semester in college, and running can be a good distraction.”

Ryan Kruger, a member of Westminster’s Trail Running Club, and David Kimberly, the club’s adviser, discuss whether to take the Rattle Snake Gulch Trail or continue on the Burch Hollow Trailhead. Rattle Snake Gulch and Burch Hollow are two of the 18 trails in Mill Creek Canyon. Photo by Craig Knight.

Ryan Kruger, a member of Westminster’s Trail Running Club, and David Kimberly, the club’s adviser, discuss whether to take the Rattle Snake Gulch Trail or continue on the Burch Hollow Trailhead. Rattle Snake Gulch and Burch Hollow are two of the 18 trails in Mill Creek Canyon. Photo by Craig Knight.

Exercising is not only beneficial for health but is also helpful when it comes to managing stress, according to 2013 research from the Department of Psychology at Princeton University.

The study suggests running increases the number of new neurons in the dentate gyrus—a section in the temporal lobe that helps process new information sent to the brainand decreases anxiety-like behavior.

“In trail running, you often come across steep hills or inclines,” said David Kimberly, a biology professor and the faculty adviser for Westminster’s Trail Running Club. “When this happens, you run when you can and walk when you have to. That’s the mantra of trail running.”

Prior to coming to Westminster College two years ago, Kimberly was preparing his dissertation for his doctorate at Texas Tech and took time out of his studies to trail run.

David Kimberly, the faculty adviser for Westminster’s Trail Running Club, runs alongside his dog Riley and club member Ryan Kruger. Kimberly said Riley stays in the front or back during a run to ensure the group stays together. Photo by Craig Knight.

David Kimberly, the faculty adviser for Westminster’s Trail Running Club, runs alongside his dog Riley and club member Ryan Kruger. Kimberly said Riley stays in the front or back during a run to ensure the group stays together. Photo by Craig Knight.

“It helped manage my stress and being able to get out and move helped relieve my mind,” Kimberly said.

While the research from Princeton has demonstrated that exercising can help with managing stress, Kimberly said trail running also helps him realize he can overcome any type of adversity.

“Running up mountains, oddly enough, has helped me feel assured to do what I’m assigned to do,” Kimberly said

The Trail Running Club plans to run once a week during the Fall and Spring semesters.