Chill the 'F' Out: with RSOP

BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | The Statesman One of the best ways to stay sane while preparing for final exams is to get away from the books and into the gym.

Not a gym rat? No problem, because exercise in any form reduces stress.

“The campus stress (level) is a little bit higher than normal but I think that this is one of the outlets that can occupy your body and mind for an hour before you have to go and study,” Trista Anderson, UMD’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP)’s fitness and wellness coordinator, said of exercising during finals week.

Scientific evidence suggests that exercise breaks reduce stress and make study sessions more effective.

“It increases your blood flow, it gets your endorphins flowing. It releases tensions from your muscles (and increases) breathing. Very simple things like that can gear our bodies up to study,” Anderson said.

Even with student employees who have their own exams to study for, RSOP’s Fitness Center is fully operational in the weeks leading up to, as well as during, finals week.

There’s an entire weight room and cardio area to get the blood flowing but Anderson notes that you don’t have to run a marathon to relieve stress.

“Working out for students is relative,” Anderson said. “For some it’s just walking on the track above the ice rink with a friend. You don’t have to be dripping with sweat to relieve stress.”

You don’t even have to stay inside to exercise. There are a number of hiking trails around campus, including trails in Bagley Nature Area with connections to the Superior Hiking Trail and Hartley Nature Center. RSOP also rents out a number of items to help you better enjoy the outdoors.

“We actually have over 2,000 items for rent and those are very seasonal,” Erin Zoellick, RSOP’s rental center manager, said.

But if you’re looking to rent some winter recreation items, you might want to wait for the snow to fall first.

“We’re in a weird season because we want there to be snow but it isn’t here yet so typically I would say (rent) snowshoes or cross country skis, which we have the moment (that) snow hits,” Zoellick said.

RSOP’s equipment rental center becomes something of a hidden gem late in the semester with students busy studying for finals and the first snows of the season bringing out new winter items for rent.

“It ebbs and flows as students get more or less stressed out. I think people have really different reactions to that,” Zoellick said of the rental center’s business around finals week.

“I would say it’s always underutilized because we always want students to get outside.”

Although for many it becomes an excuse to stay inside, winter brings a number of unique opportunities for students to chill out during finals week.

“There are a lot of physical and emotional benefits to getting outside, no matter what time of day. Winter starts being a great time of year to star gaze as well and getting out there at night is a great way to relieve stress,” Zoellick said.

No matter what sort of physical activity you enjoy, RSOP provides numerous opportunities to de-stress during finals week. Head over to for the full finals week hours as well as a long list of items you can rent in RSOP’s Rental Center.


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