Fitness Is A Right – The Pioneer

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, physical fitness is a critical factor. Being a student can sometimes lead to poor eating habits, no time for exercise, and not enough sleep. Pulling all-nighters to study, party, and/or work can all contribute to a lack of fitness, especially in college. 

Exercise has many benefits, including improved physical fitness, improved mental health, reduced risk of chronic diseases, more energy, and better overall well-being. Unfortunately, not all Americans have the same access to fitness activities or gyms. Many can’t afford a gym membership or don’t have a gym in their neighborhood; a reality that should be remedied with universal and free gym access.

Fitness should not be a luxury few can afford. Giving free gym access to all Americans will help to reduce the rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes: all of which are often linked to a lack of physical activity. Making exercise more available to everyone can help prevent these illnesses from developing in the first place. 

Furthermore, thousands of dollars per person would be saved on healthcare costs related to obesity or the consequences of obesity. This would not only improve the health of individuals but also reduce the burden on the healthcare system. While this does not seem like such a big deal in college, fast-forwarding 10 or 15 years is when it starts to matter – as if health was like money in the bank for your future. 

Providing free gym access to all would also help to balance the issue of income inequality. People living in low-income communities often have less access to healthy food and safe spaces to exercise. Making fitness facilities available to all would help to level the playing field and give everyone an equal opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle.  If we can fund prisons we can fund a free, clean, and safe gym for all.  

Regular exercise has been proven to have a positive impact on mental health, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. With free gym access, people who may not otherwise be able to afford a gym membership can have an outlet for stress relief and mental wellness.  Better mental health can also improve focus, and help you study hard in school. You just might be able to exercise your way to a better GPA.

Working out can promote positivity and social interactions.  Free gym access would promote a culture of fitness and healthy living. This can benefit students who are in a new place to form groups of friends. According to a poll of the general Cal State East Bay student population conducted on the CSUEB Discord server 90% of student respondents favored universal gym access not only for all people. 

The next obvious question is how.  Federal funding.  If the government can fund prescription drugs for obesity-related medications, diabetes, heart disease, and the like, there is likely room in the budget for a gym in each area deemed a “city.” Similar to “food deserts”, the first step in ending “fitness deserts” is to make facilities available to people regardless of socioeconomic status. Current programs exist at a more micro level, or at the individual health insurance level, which many people don’t have. 

Fitness should be a right, not a privilege.  Providing free and universal gym access to all Americans is essential for promoting healthy living, reducing chronic diseases, addressing income inequality, and improving mental health. Investing in fitness facilities and promoting physical activity can create a healthier, happier, and more equitable society for all. As a result, a healthier, physically fit, and mentally strong population is better able to thrive in all aspects.

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