Summer Days: The Pressure to be Active

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Flickr / Naser Chawroka, June 2017

Kaetlyn Dembkoski
Staff Writer

Now that we are in the midst of the summer months, the days without classes or homework have given us the breaks we so duly deserve; however, we are not clear of expectations yet. In a society like ours that pressures its inhabitants in terms of physical beauty, the desire to remain active during the summer becomes our new “assignment.”

We watch numerous advertisements and television shows where being “beach ready” is the most important aspect of summer. Due to these negatively influential advertisements, it is easy to fall into their trap and struggle with feeling guilty for not working out.

Regardless of whether we stayed active during the fall and spring semesters, too many people sink into this lull of summer vacation once exams are finished. This lull is linked with every aspect of our bodies. While it primarily describes our brains after all of the studying for various final exams, it also involves our drive to do other normal tasks that we may have been in a routine for.

Once free gym access is out of the picture, staying active become more strenuous. During this three month period, when the onus is on us to keep ourselves in shape, many of us drop the ball while attempting to reconfigure our schedules to enjoy ourselves as much as possible, thus neglecting many of our body’s needs.

Due to the insistence of society to be a certain weight and obtain that perfect body, the concept of exercising is no longer just lifting weights and being fit. In summer is where this insistence is the strongest with ads referring to “perfect bodies” constantly, relying heavily on aspects of guilt to pressure their readers that they either will never look as beautiful or must recreate their bodies from the inside out to be recognized as such. For students, with the university’s gym available to us, the stakes become less stressful as we have an outlet to exercise when we want to. However, as vacation rolls around, we lose these environments and are left to fend for ourselves.

I am no different than these people, as I find myself guilted by these same ads and remind myself often to get my act together. These ads worm their way into my brain, planting doubt about whether I’m as fit as I used to be and peeling away at my self-esteem. I find myself upset when I’m not as active as I’d like myself to be.

Ever since school closed for the summer, I’ve found myself re-situating my schedule to try to put exercising back on my list. My concern for myself, which is a shared emotion among many others, comes from the outward pressure of society with their numerous ads and magazines with only the thinnest people to endorse them. For me, the ads are not a pressure to conform, but instead, they act as a reminder that I am guilty of ceasing to work out.

The ruthless attacks from the media are not the only means by which society condemns people, arising from an aspect of life we cannot simply tune out. During the summertime, the environment adds another factor against us using the immense heat to put us off from exercising. In my experiences, a majority of my exercising happens indoors to avoid overheating as my body does not take kindly to extreme heat. For many, the heat adds a degree of difficulty that turns them away from exercising altogether.

For those who prefer to beat the heat by being in a pool, swimming is an amazing way to stay active and provides a cool environment to do a couple laps or just have fun with some friends. Luckily, public pools are very accessible to nearly everyone and for some, joining a location such as a YMCA where they have pools would be a cheap way to exercise.

In the past few weeks, I have found a routine that works for me. I’ve found that, without proper equipment, I had to find alternatives so I’ve resorted to multitasking. As someone who predominantly watches YouTube videos over television, I started finding makeshift weights out of normal objects to lift while I watch. Then later in the evenings, after work, I head outside to take a long walk to the park near my house. While it doesn’t match exactly to the machinery, it will at least keep me in the routine so that when I do return, I can start back up again properly.

While summertime is a prime time for companies and advertisements to attack our bodies with expectations and picture examples of how we should look, exercising simply to keep fit and active should be the overall goal.

There are numerous ways to keep fit even during the lull hours of summer vacations where we are meant to relax. Too many people are destroyed by their own forcefulness to conform to society’s extreme body standards. Ignoring the magazine covers is easy and finding simple ways to keep active can come from just getting out and about, no overexertion required. Each of us must find a happy medium in order to balance the radical from the rational.



Categories: Columns, Opinions

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