Lifting off the weight of COVID-19: The sudden upbringing of exercise for teenagers today

Senior+Joe+Gaya+completes+a+set+of+bench+press+at+the+TBK+Bett+Plex+late+last+week.

Matt Mickle

Senior Joe Gaya completes a set of bench press at the TBK Bett Plex late last week.

Alex Hunter, Copy Editor

With an overwhelming amount of spare time during the COVID-19 outbreak, the fitness gap widened among the American population. Millions of citizens were forced to lock themselves away in pure isolation for months, and the physical deficits were easily predicted.

Although it became easy for many people to develop lazy habits, many teenagers were motivated to dedicate time to fitness and exercise. 

The amount of unfulfilled time led many teenagers to begin a lifting journey, which consisted of long hours in the gym and sustainable eating habits. It became a major challenge for people who lacked at-home gym equipment and resources to get their physical activity up. This led many to think outside of the box and encounter alternative methods of exercise. Despite access to adequate gym equipment, senior Ryan Dolphin, a four-year varsity basketball player found a way to workout during this chaotic time nearly every day, “I tried to work out many times a week, with Covid going on there wasn’t much to do so just to stay active and productive I made it a priority,” he said. 

Even in times of hardship and despair, maintaining one’s physique is the key to longevity. 

The benefits of working out as a teenager do not go unnoticed. In an article written by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), working out at a young age “can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions.” Social media has had a huge influence on teenagers’ body image since the birth of the Internet and is even prominent today. 

The popular app Tik Tok is flooded with fitness influencers who have created a trend where they show their monumental progress in the gym dating back to the beginning of quarantine. The idea that a single social media platform has the potential to motivate teenagers to get into the ritual of working out daily is quite powerful. 

Senior SJ Brecht, a PV varsity football player as well as habitual lifter at the TBK Bett Plex explained how social media has affected his workout routine. “I do believe that social media has influenced me to get into lifting more. I knew that I’d always wanted to workout but seeing the results of people got me started into my lifting journey,” he said. 

Even past isolation, many teens have carried over lifting habits to their regular routines. This has created a much-needed boost in morale and motivation for adolescents today, as America has become stagnant ever since the beginning of COVID-19.

The rise in popularity in lifting among young people has created a virtual and physical environment where teenagers can escape reality and healthily deal with stress. Because emotional and physical pain travel the same neural pathways in the human brain, habits of exercising and being mindful of one’s physical health deal with pain in not only a productive way but in a way in which teenagers have the ability to grow beyond their challenges every day.