U must do better in promoting physical activity – The Daily Utah Chronicle


Throughout the pandemic, the University of Utah has placed the health and well-being of students above almost everything else. Online courses, testing options, and vaccination sites have greatly helped students throughout this stressful time.

Obviously, the U cares about its students. However, the U can better ensure the full health and well-being of students.

According to the International Journal of Exercise Science, students are much less likely to exercise as they get older. By promoting exercise better through the Student Life Center, outdoor courts and intramural, U could do its part to mitigate the skyrocketing college obesity numbers.

During my first two years of college, I used the Student Life Center most often. Whether I’m shooting for a hoop or going for a run, the Student Life Center has the amenities of any good gym. With this, the U organizes many fitness classes to keep the students engaged in the activity.

However, the Student Life Center has disappointing drawbacks.

First, the opening hours do not allow flexibility in the crazy schedules of the students. Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. MDT on weekdays with closing hours earlier on weekends, students have limited hours where they can train after long days.

I had times in my freshman year where all I wanted to do was shoot hoops at 11pm after I finished my homework. Unfortunately, that was not an option. If I wanted to go for a run on Saturday night, I would have to do it before 8 p.m.

The average student goes to bed well after 10 p.m., leaving the night owls with no exercise options through the Student Life Center. The simple explanation for these hours would be that the students mainly staff the gymnasium. However, maintaining a small team of night workers could potentially handle the low volume of students entering at night.

In addition, the fees imposed on students to use the Center for Student Life appear unnecessary. While the tuition fee includes gymnasium membership fees for students taking classes, any student who is not currently enrolled pays additional fees.

While that may seem fair, it leaves summer vacation students in the dust. Students shouldn’t have to pay to take their summer vacation. University students are much less financially stable than the average American. They shouldn’t have unexpected loads placed on them for a workout.

To promote the health and well-being of students, U should extend free membership in the Student Life Center to students who were fully enrolled in the previous semester. Since students on summer vacation would use it primarily during a season when the gymnasium is already accommodating fewer people than usual, the Student Life Center would likely not reach capacity.

For now, students who don’t want to pay these fees have to rely on the U’s outdoor facilities, which themselves have problems.

The U’s many outdoor amenities are an excellent on-campus resource for fresh air. A basketball court, disc golf course, volleyball courts and numerous sports fields make up the impressive arsenal of outdoor spaces. These amenities would be beneficial to the health of the students if the U managed them well. Unfortunately, especially in the midst of the pandemic, they didn’t.

Since at least the beginning of spring, finding a field or a court to exercise is a chore in itself. At the basketball court near Lassonde, the hoops have no nets. Almost all of the surrounding fields remained locked during off-peak hours, channeling students to overcrowded multipurpose fields. If these courts are open to students, the lights are almost never on to allow for late play.

These steps were likely taken to reduce COVID-19 hot spots on campus, but when the Center for Student Life remains open, that reasoning seems illogical.

Transmission of the coronavirus is much lower in outdoor spaces, especially with more room to spread out. But the U makes it difficult for students to engage in outdoor activities.

With improved management and more effort, students would have the time and space to exercise freely.

For those who want to avoid the headaches of the Student Life Center or the unpredictability of outdoor facilities, intramural sports are a must-have option. The U offers an extensive intramural program, with sports such as soccer, ultimate frisbee and the famous canoe fight. Many students who play inside the walls find them fun and engaging ways to exercise.

However, the U’s management of intramurals makes the process unnecessarily difficult.

For starters, the website used for registration and scheduling is terrible. The U uses IMLeagues, which bombards the user with ads and forces them to wait longer than expected to check your intramural team. This website, along with poorly written rules for these sports, frustrates those who want to participate in something fun and active.

Overall, the U made the exercise more difficult for the students. Activities as simple as going to the gym, throwing a ball with friends, or playing an intramural soccer game should be more readily available.

By implementing simple fixes such as extended hours and gym memberships, field access and a fully functioning intramural system, the U could see a spike in student exercise. If the U really cares about the health and well-being of its students, it’s time they showed it.

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