By the time the third week of the semester rolls around, school can get stressful. Exams and paper deadlines are quickly approaching, and students are beginning to feel the difficultly in balancing both academics and self-care.
Gelman Library is open 24 hours a day to accommodate all types of students, from those who want to get work done during the day to those who would rather cram in studies throughout the night. But students use the gym to practice self-care just as much as studying, and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center does not accommodate students as well as Gelman. Officials should keep Lerner open during all hours of the day to ensure that the gym is always an option for students who need to de-stress.
When schoolwork and extracurriculars start to pick up, finding time to exercise during the day is nearly impossible. Students could have back-to-back classes during the day, then commit to a study session with friends or student organization meeting in the evening. By the time students look to put on their sneakers and hit the gym, Lerner might be closed. Students should not need to worry about finding time for exercise amidst cramped schedules.
Physical exercise is positively linked with academic performance. Many students have obligations outside of classwork, meaning that they are forced to choose between going to the gym, completing an assignment or working. By opening up the gym during the night, students can work off stress after a long day without having to worry about fitting the gym into a tight schedule.
Workouts can also help students fall asleep after a long and stressful day. Exercise can help counteract issues relating to sleep deprivation. A number of students do not choose to be awake late at night, but problems with sleeping could keep them up. Offering them a productive alternative to sitting awake in bed waiting could prove beneficial. Students are going to stay up late at night anyway, and the University should help them lead a healthier lifestyle by keeping Lerner open 24/7.
If the gym is closed, the alternative is exercising outside. On a city campus like GW, running outside when Lerner is closed could be dangerous, even if students are staying within the National Mall or campus. Students may want to fit in a workout in the early hours of the morning or after Lerner’s closing hour, and officials should protect the safety of students by allowing the gym to be an option all of the time.
The University aids students’ studying habits but not their exercise habits by keeping Gelman open all the time. Keeping Lerner open during a smaller time frame sends a message to students that academics is more important than taking care of their physical health. The University can show they care about student health and safety by keeping Lerner open when Gelman is open.
As long as administrators are willing to keep the library open all day every day to help students study, they must also be willing to keep their exercise facilities open and demonstrate their support of students’ physical wellbeing.
Matthew Zachary, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a columnist.
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