Students struggling to find mental clarity during midterms may not benefit from a real cheat code. Countless hours of mind-blowing study sessions in the library can make learning seem endless. It is difficult to retain information during long sessions, and the University of Utah must make student well-being a top priority.
To do this, the U must provide free fitness classes in the Student Life Center on campus during midterms.
Unfortunately, burnout is a common theme in college, and students often don’t know how to control it. However, there are numerous studies on the effects of exercise on mental health. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins, which reduce stress and boost mood—an instant relief during this stressful midseason. It found that adults engaging in moderate physical activity, which even included short, low-intensity sessions, experienced only half the level of perceived stress compared to their inactive work counterparts.
No matter what the benefits say, it can still be difficult to fit an exercise routine into a busy schedule. However, even 20 minutes of light physical activity can have real cognitive effects on the body and mind. The U’s campus has more than enough opportunities for walking, biking, and running.
But more importantly, we need to prioritize exercise by participating in healthy breaks and taking advantage of the Student Life Center. Your mind will thank you and so will your body.
Free fitness classes
Also, the U needs to take a tougher stance on student eligibility. Although easier said than done, the U should offer free practice lessons during midterms as a first step. This will not only help the students physically but also mentally. The idea of opening up opportunities for students to come and rest while doing something mentally stimulating should be a no-brainer.
The U currently offers group fitness classes for $7 per class and an all-access fitness card for $62.50. There are free weeks during finals where students can participate by simply stopping by at the designated time. However, making all these fitness classes free will not only remove the mental burden but also ease the financial stress.
The U’s fitness classes include yoga, which has various sub-categories of gentle yoga and recharge yoga, which involve deep stretching and understanding the basics. In addition, the U offers more advanced classes, including Pilates and strength yoga, which help build strength and improve flexibility.
Mentally, yoga can help students slow down, find a sense of calm, and improve focus, making it a valuable tool for dealing with the stresses of academic life. But if yoga isn’t your thing, there are also a variety of classes focused on dance, cycling and strength training, plus some classes held in pools. All these classes are taught in groups and run every day, which offers opportunities to go with friends, meet new people and forget about studying for a short period of time.
Mandatory medium term relief
For many, the gym is a place where students can escape the demands of their coursework.
Tate Strico, a U student who trained at the Center for Student Life, explained that it was important for him to mentally have an outlet to de-stress.
“It’s a lot of pressure trying to get big assignments done and keep my grades up … I try to go to the gym at least five days a week,” Stryko said. “If I don’t, I get severe anxiety. Incorporating exercise into your daily tasks can offer a sense of accomplishment and routine. I just feel like most of my stress is kind of off my back for a while.
Exercise breaks from academic stress not only recharge the mind, but also create a healthier campus community where fitness is important.
Students’ responsibilities to do homework, study for midterms, and have time for their personal lives shouldn’t rest on them alone. It is a shared responsibility between the U, its students and faculty to provide an ideal environment for success. By recognizing the benefits of a more fitness-focused campus, the U could help students and ultimately speed up the process of implementing much-needed fixes like free gym classes.