Ways for students to Stay Active During the Winter

Now that the winter months have arrived, the motivation to go outside and be active is dwindling. From snowy weather to slippery sidewalks, the outdoors is hardly the most appealing place to get a workout in. For some Penn students, especially those not involved in a sport or fitness class, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, there are many community and online resources available to those who are looking to be more active during all seasons. But first, it is important to realize why staying active is so important.

Why is exercise important?

According to the CDC, “Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as: Heart disease, Cancer, Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, Osteoporosis,[and] Obesity”.

How Much Should Teens Exercise?

Well, according to the CDC, teens should be getting in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. But let’s be honest, how many of us are actually meeting that criteria. According to the CDC, less than one quarter of adolescents, ages 7 to 17, are getting in the suggested hour of exercise every day. And I’m sure Covid-19 hasn’t helped those statistics. In 2017, only 26.1% of high school students had exercised for an hour each day the previous week. 

What are some ways that students can exercise from home?

When asked how students could stay fit from home, Mrs. O’Grady responded, “The best way to stay active is to pick an easy enough routine that you can follow daily or every other day which you will stick with and not want to quit. Make it something that you look forward to doing or you build up to a reward of sorts that makes you more motivated to do it. I’ll use an example of running since I run…if you want to stay active, start making it a goal to run/walk for 5 min a day, then 10 min/day, then build in increments of 5 minutes every few days so that by the end, you are doing it for at least a half hour or more, depending on your goals”. 

How can online resources help students stay active?

When asked about what online resources could be useful to students, Mrs. Pawlik suggested “My fitness pal, peloton, beach body are a few, but there are several fitness apps that let you have a free trial too or are free to use. YouTube exercise videos are GREAT – You can search YouTube and get great suggestions with whatever equipment you have at home”. 

Workout videos

There are many different YouTube channels that feature workout videos ranging from a beginner difficulty level to an intense difficulty level. There are also plenty of yoga and stretching videos as well. I became very familiar with these during summer gym and they helped me stay active while learning from home.

Timed workout apps

 There are many options on the app store for short, timed workout apps. They allow users to work out for short amounts of time and curate the exercises for you, making it super simple to get a 10-minute workout in.

What community resources can help students stay active?

How can school resources help students stay active?

When asked about this subject, Mrs. O’Grady responded “We have the fitness center here at Penn, as well as Cates strength-building classes, which are awesome for getting and keeping in shape. There are also a variety of physical education classes that they can choose from here to do all year so that they are “required” to stay active if they need that forced motivation. There are also sports teams that they can join here at Penn or elsewhere if we don’t offer it here”.

Fitness Classes- You can find the list of Penn’s fitness classes here on the Penn High School Website.

Club/Intermittent Sports- Penn High School offers Intramural Basketball and Intramural Volleyball.

Team Sports- Penn High School has a variety of different team sports. Further information on those can be found here.

How can local resources help students stay active?

Local Gyms

Of course, there is always the option to join a gym. As long as you can afford a gym membership and have the time to get a workout in, a local gym can provide a lot of equipment that you wouldn’t have at home.

Zumba Classes

There are facilities located in both South Bend and Elkhart where you can attend Zumba classes. The fee per session is, on average, under $10 dollars, and many facilities offer bundles where you can get a discount by paying for 10-15 sessions upfront.

How can students stay consistent with exercise?

The overall theme with both Mrs. O’Grady and Mrs. Pawlik’s response was that the most important thing to focus on was setting personal goals and keeping yourself accountable. According to Mrs. Pawlik, “The winter seems to be people’s excuse to not work out.  Set a time every other day for fitness – 30 – 60 minutes.  If that is too difficult, focus on the steps you take and just keep moving.  Nutrition can be a great focus in the winter.  You get your eating habits to be more healthy – a tougher exercise in the Spring will be more fun and challenging”. Mrs. O’Grady also shared her two cents on the subject of consistency, writing “Like with anything in life, you need to have the discipline to make yourself workout and keep at it. There are ways to motivate yourself to workout, such as working out with a friend, having an accountability partner or group, set small goals for yourself to achieve a bigger goal, make it something that you can easily do in your daily life, and always schedule time to work out in your day”.