From May 16 to August 31 as part of its High School Summer Pass, teens will be able to head to their local Planet Fitness to lift weights, improve their cardiovascular health, and experience the serotonin-boosting benefits of working out with friends. (Simply pre-register online, wait for sign-up info to hit your inbox, and start sweating).
Snagging a free gym membership is a great way to get out of the house, sure, but it also makes physical activity more fun and accessible for high school kids. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, but about 77 percent of teens aren't quite hitting that quota.
This lack of movement can affect teenagers' mental and physical well-being: There are so many lifelong benefits of getting your sweat on, from reducing the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, to mitigating feelings of depression to promoting self-esteem. In short, what teens learn at the gym goes well beyond a bicep curl.
A complimentary gym membership may move the needle for teenage girls in particular. According to the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF), by age 14, girls drop out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The WSF attributes this striking statistic to a few factors, including social stigma, a lack of role models, and the fact that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys do.
While the Planet Fitness membership can't necessarily close this gap during the school year, it can ensure that girls have somewhere safe to move and explore what feels good in their bodies come summertime. And, of course, the years preceding adulthood are key for exploring the types of exercise that will stick with you throughout life (even when those lazy, hazy days of summer are spent working in an air-conditioned office).
Summer recess is in session.
Not sure where to start at the gym? Try this beginner-friendly strength and mobility routine:
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