(opinions) exercise mental health

Outside of McComas Hall, the location of one of the gyms on campus, Oct. 30, 2019.

Coming back to campus for the semester of fall 2020, many things have changed. One of those changes is the new procedures put in place to ensure everyone’s safety at McComas Gym. Students are asked to wear masks while walking between equipment and are supposed to sign up for a time slot to work out after 3 p.m. on weekdays. Although the new changes may be strange, taking advantage of McComas during such a time could potentially help students with mental health struggles and boost their levels of happiness. 

Working out has been proven to raise endorphins in a person's body. Endorphins are known as a “happy” chemical in our bodies that can help lift our moods. During a time where students are burnt out over continuous assignments and stressed over having to isolate themselves, working out is the perfect excuse to get out of the house with the extra bonus of boosted endorphins, improved mood and physical exercise. 

Lara Kornblut, a Pamplin College of Business student and fitness instructor at McComas Gym, shared her opinion on the subject. 

“My favorite part about working out is that it allows me to disconnect from my busy schedule to truly be present,” Kornblut said. “Especially now with the world moving towards a virtual environment, I think people often forget the importance of moving because it is no longer programmed into our routines as it used to be. Before the pandemic, movement was subconsciously scheduled into our days as we had to go from point A to point B. But now, that has been taken away from most people and moving is more of an active decision than a subconscious one.” 

Kornblut also shared the benefits of taking advantage of the gym. 

“While I am biased towards the gym because I work there, I truly believe that having the gym open during the pandemic has been a saving grace,” Kornblut said. “I am there every single day, and it creates a sense of normalcy and consistency for me in a time where nothing is stable. More than ever, people have the time to focus on their health and what matters to them. Simply leaving the house, even if it's only for 30 minutes, can give people a boost in their day and create a sense of intention and purpose. Also, it is one of the few open facilities on campus, so even going there to have human interaction is important.” 

Kornblut makes a great point. We’ve been forced to shut ourselves inside for the most part, therefore cutting off the stem of our physical activity. Like Kornblut said, getting outside and active, even if for a short period of time, can help us throughout the rest of the day. As someone who is an avid gym goer, I can easily say going to the gym helps make my day feel more productive and helps boost my mental and physical energy. 

McComas Gym does require that patrons register for a time slot before visiting the gym; you can pre-register up to three days in advance. The gym is open from 7 a.m. and closes temporarily at 2 p.m. for cleaning. The gym opens back up at 3 p.m. and is open until closing. With this in mind, I urge students to take advantage of McComas. Physical exercise not only benefits us physically, but mentally as well. Getting out of the house during a time of isolation can help boost our spirits and is a great way to relieve stress.