Gym Class Can Help Extend Your Life

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Gym Class Can Help Extend Your Life

Connor Dalrymple, Jake Stinson, Allison Raulie, and Chase Giglio play an intense game of badminton.

Connor Dalrymple, Jake Stinson, Allison Raulie, and Chase Giglio play an intense game of badminton.

Connor Dalrymple, Jake Stinson, Allison Raulie, and Chase Giglio play an intense game of badminton.

Connor Dalrymple, Jake Stinson, Allison Raulie, and Chase Giglio play an intense game of badminton.

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High school can be a challenging time for students.  Self esteem becomes an issue for 70% of girls and 40% of boys from ages 15-17, and social interactions can be awkward as they turn into something teens dread.

Faced with this awkwardness and self-consciousness, students can be steered away from an activity that could help them immensely, not only with their self esteem, but also with academics and overall health/happiness: gym class.

Students may avoid gym class because they “don’t like to sweat, some workouts are uncomfortable and some are embarrassed to change in to P.E. clothes,” said P.E. and health teacher Robert Nalbach.

In junior Gwen Burrow’s words, “[P.E.] can be really awkward in the locker rooms because I don’t like changing in front of  people.”

To increase participation, students are required to have three P.E. credits to graduate. However, P.E. is intended to be a class that students enjoy and look forward to, not something students only do to ensure that they can graduate.

A variety of P.E classes are offered at AAHS to allow students to pick whichever one best fits their interests. “I’m glad that there is variety in which classes I can choose because I didn’t want to do weights but I still had other options,” said senior Sebastian Escalante.

“We encourage students to put a lot of thought into which P.E. class they select, which increases the chance of fun,” Nalbach said.

In addition to being a fun class, P.E. teaches skills and provides benefits that will be useful throughout students’ entire lives.

A study done by the University of British Columbia showed that exercise that raises your heart rate also increases the size of your hippocampus. The hippocampus controls verbal memory and learning. This directly reduces the risk of dementia in the future, and can help students today, when they are arguably learning the most.

Not only that, but exercise has indirect benefits to mental health as well. Exercise improves sleep, which is crucial to cognitive function. “I see students’ moods improve and in most cases they look forward to the activities planned,” said Nalbach.

As Burrow said, “I always look forward to racquet sports at the end of the day.”

According to a study done by Science Direct, depression has a negative effect on academic performance. P.E. class can directly combat this. Harvard University said that when battling depression, “exercise can be as effective as drugs.”

In Nalbach’s words, “Having goals related to exercise or a sport can give someone a sense of purpose and joy.” This is because when exercising, the body releases endorphins, one of the chemicals that causes people to feel happiness. This is the same reason that so many runners experience “runner’s high.”

“I always leave gym class feeling happy and energetic,” said Escalante.

The benefits of P.E. don’t stop at mental health, however. Physical health can be greatly improved and life can even be extended by engaging in physical activity.  The exercises and activities in gym class can help to “manage weight, and reduce the risk of type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” explains Nalbach.

This heightened physical health can translate to extended life. In fact, a study by the National Cancer Institute revealed that adults who exercised the recommended amount gained an average of 4.2 years of life expectancy, and those who only got half the recommended amount still gained an average of 1.8 years of life expectancy.

As kids are growing up, physical activity can benefit them in a multitude of ways. Gym class in school can be one of the easiest ways for kids to find out what they enjoy and create habits that will keep them healthy and happy throughout their entire lives.

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