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5 Reasons to Prioritize Health and Fitness in High School
It’s just past dawn on a cloudy, miserable morning, yet there she is again, jogging along the same street at the same time. We’ve all seen someone like her. She seems to hardly skip a single day. You may wonder where her passion and drive come from. You might be curious what motivates her to draw herself out from under those warm covers before the sun rises. Where did her dedication to health and fitness begin?
It could be a habit she developed long ago while she was still in high school, and it’s something that you can do too.
Health and fitness is an important and beneficial interest to pursue at any age, but it can be particularly helpful to build dedication in these areas during your years as a high schooler. These pursuits include everything from exercising regularly and eating nutritiously to educating yourself about how to get the most from your body and staying on top of your own preventative health care.
Sometimes, when you’re busy, your own personal wellbeing and self-care can be shoved aside in favor of studying or student council. But taking care of yourself and building healthy habits as a high school student is important for you both right now and further down the line. Even if you don’t consider yourself a jock, prioritizing your dedication to health and fitness as a high school student has long-reaching benefits that extend far beyond your physical fitness. To learn about five of them, keep reading.
1. Exercising Benefits Mental Health
When you exercise, your body responds positively. Some of these responses are chemical in nature and others are behavioral. Either way, the evidence agrees overwhelmingly that regular physical exertion has positive effects on your mental health.
As you exercise, the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol decrease in your body. At the same time, exercise stimulates the creation of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and painkillers.
Exercise also boosts your spirits in other ways. Regular physical exertion is associated with increased self-confidence, positive self-image, and an elevated sense of control over your life. You’re also more likely to feel invigorated or energized if you exercise regularly, and these feelings can spill over into other areas of your life. Your increased energy could help with studying, other extracurriculars, or simply enjoying time with friends. The emotional impacts of exercising regularly are overwhelmingly positive.
2. Regular Fitness Participation Can Help You to Meet New People
It can be difficult to branch out socially in high school once students have established their core groups of friends, but fitness can be a social activity that brings people together. Whether you are participating in team sports, individual sports, sports clubs, or fitness classes, or you just go to the gym regularly, you are bound to meet new people with whom you share a common interest. Over time, you’re bound to strike up conversations and build connections with people you’d otherwise never have met.
If you participate in fitness pursuits outside of your high school, you might even meet people from different schools or other age groups. Feeling like you are part of a community and have a group of supporters can be an invaluable investment in your own confidence, accountability, and well-being. Your dedication to health and fitness can help you to establish a solid support network. Some fitness programs, like Crossfit, are based largely in the sense of community developed by participating in them.
3. Health and Fitness Can Be a Valuable Extracurricular
One factor that admissions committees weigh when reviewing your college application is the commitment and dedication that you’ve exhibited through extracurricular activities. A passion for health and fitness is easily pursued as an extracurricular through a number of different avenues.
You might join a school sport, participate in or even start a club sport or fitness club, volunteer to teach healthy habits to elementary schoolers, or even get a job related to your passion, like a fitness class instructor or gym supervisor. Pursuing one or multiple extracurriculars related to your passion over an extended period will not only build your own knowledge and skills in the field, but also show colleges that you are capable of pursuing your interests seriously, sustaining your commitment over a prolonged period and perhaps even building to leadership roles.
Your pursuit of and dedication to health and fitness can thereby become an important extracurricular on your college applications, highlighting your initiative, commitment, and leadership skills.
4. Many College Majors Can Be Found in the Health and Fitness Fields
While exercise and fitness might seem like a casual hobby at first glance, it can also be a serious academic major if you decide to pursue it professionally.
There are relevant fields of study that can lead to a career in the field of health and fitness. Some colleges, like Emory University and College of the Ozarks, offer majors specifically in health and fitness. Another common and closely related major is kinesiology and exercise science, and this is offered at many top colleges, like the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rice University, and the University of Southern California.
If you don’t want to specifically major in these fields or would rather pursue another related field, there are plenty of other options worth considering. Related fields of study could lead to a career in physical therapy, medicine, nutrition, sports administration, athletic training, or physical education. By turning your interest in health and fitness into a serious professional pursuit, you might be able to find a career that is genuinely interesting and important to you.
5. Developing a Healthy Lifestyle is a Key Piece of Autonomy
While there are many skills and habits that you’ll need to develop during high school and college in order to establish your independence, living a healthy lifestyle is among the most important. The physical and mental benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle are numerous, and by establishing the foundation of this lifestyle while you’re still in high school, you set yourself up to continue it into college and beyond.
College can be a tempting time to develop unhealthy habits. For some students, it becomes a time of experimentation, testing their body’s limits and responses to unhealthy stimuli ranging from sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating to experimentation with alcohol and drug use. If you prioritize a healthy lifestyle as a high school student, you’re less likely to compromise these values in college.
Healthy living and personal fitness are valuable pursuits not only for your own physical well-being, but also for the number of non-physical benefits that they provide. Not only can these areas of interest lead to a serious professional field, but also they can provide mental health and social benefits as well. Prioritizing your pursuit of these and establishing the habits of a healthy lifestyle while still in high school can lead to success across many aspects of your life.
To learn more pursuing the field of health and fitness, or for general advice about your high school pursuits, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.