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Credit: Mira Shetty

Homework, hanging out with friends, studying for midterms, grabbing dinner … sounds like your week, right? But where does going on a run or making a trip to the gym fit in? It is so important to stay active and exercise as often as you can in college. Although it might have been easy to get exercise through involvement in a sport or active club in high school, it can be a lot more challenging in college, when sports become super competitive and class work piles up. Penn makes going to the gym and exercising accessible, and maybe even fun, for its students. 

Although time-consuming and sometimes inconvenient when classes pick up and school work is the main priority, exercise has been found to reduce stress — something most of us experience frequently at Penn. Through exercising, the number of stress hormones released is reduced, while the number of chemicals that make you feel good, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, is increased. 

Not only does exercise make you feel better, but it also plays a role in keeping your immune system strong. The white blood cells in your body are able to move more rapidly, which may allow them to detect illnesses sooner so that your body can fight them off. In addition, your body temperature rises when you work out, preventing bacteria from growing and helping your body fight infection, just like when you have a fever. When you exercise, the bacteria in your lungs and airway may be flushed out as well. This lessens the risk of developing a cold or the flu. 

Pottruck Health & Fitness Center, Penn’s campus recreation center conveniently located on 37th and Walnut, is free to all Penn students; all you have to do is simply show your Penn card to the employee at the front desk. The center offers students so much more than just your typical weights and cardio machines such as treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes; it offers a pool, basketball courts, ping pong tables, and even a climbing wall. 

If you feel like getting even more involved at the gym, and wish to include your friends, there are group exercise classes for which you can sign up, for a fee. Classes include yoga, spin, barre, core workouts, and more. These classes are offered at multiple times throughout the day, so it is easy to find one that can fit into your schedule. Once you find the class schedule, you can click on the description of each class to find out more about what each one focuses on, and, for some, how many calories you’ll be able to burn from participating in the workout. 

Just like you set aside time to eat, study, and see your friends, make exercise part of your routine. Even if it is not every day or even every other day, try to get into the habit of making that trip to Pottruck or just the gym in your dorm or apartment. You will feel happier and less stressed, and your immune system will thank you. 

ALEXA RYBICKI is an Engineering sophomore studying bioengineering. She is involved in the engineering and science sorority, AOE, as well as Penn Assistive Devices and Prosthetic Technologies (ADAPT). Her email address is

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