Healthguards promote positive lifestyle choices with 8th annual on- campus fitness challenge

Winter blues followed by final exams make it hard for people to feel motivated, especially to work out and stay healthy. A group of students and faculty want to help others exercise and stay fit with an annual fitness challenge on-campus. 

The Healthguards who are peer health educators, held their eighth annual fitness challenge on-campus beginning on April 1 and running until April 30. This year, there were 300 participants, consisting of Geneseo students and staff. The Healthguards are excited about the large number of people involved, according to Healthguard senior Tess Ramos-Dries. 

“The purpose of the fitness challenge is to get people moving after a really long winter and just to highlight the benefits of exercise—both physically and mentally,” Ramos-Dries said.

Participants can sign up for the challenge either by themselves or with teams of up to seven people. There are also three different levels that people can sign up for: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The Healthguards have also held small activities throughout the fitness challenge.

“This week we just had a 3k run around campus. This Saturday April 29 we are going to do a ‘fumba,’ which is a fake Zumba. Just a lot of dancing. It is going to be a lot of fun, and it’s only for an hour,” Healthguard junior Jesus Hernandez said. “It’s nice to do something fun and to de-stress for a bit.” 

Ramos-Dries believes that the challenge and the activities will help student maintain some modicum of calm during stressful finals. 

“I think that is a really huge component of the fitness challenge, as well. De-stressing right before finals, right before everything is going to happen,” Ramos-Dries said. “To make sure people keep their mental health and physical health in check.” 

The Healthguards hold many health-related events on-campus of all sizes. A coupleof the popular topics that they cover include mental health, stress and alcohol education, according to Hernandez. They are in charge of putting on the de-stress event at the end of the fall semester, and the fitness challenge takes place at the end of every spring semester, Hernandez said. 

“I think a lot of students love to do healthy competitions. They love to compete,” Hernandez said. “The way we do this fitness challenge is more of a healthy way. Even if you don’t win, or get the most [average] hours, the fact that you went outside for an hour, a half-hour, or even 15 minutes, that’s something. [This challenge] is more of a way to do a healthy promotion.” 

At the end of the semester, when the challenge is over, a picnic is held for the participants to celebrate everyone’s hard work. At the picnic, the organizers will reveal which group logged the highest average number of hours per week per person in their group, and prizes are given out to the winners, according to Ramos-Dries. 

“I think it is really important that people are reminded to stay healthy, that their mental health is important, that their physical health is important and that they are important. The health promotion office is putting on these events and programs to remind people to take care of themselves,” Ramos-Dries said.  “With the fitness challenge . . . [students] have the opportunity to come together with other people, to make new friendships and to join a community of people that are also trying to be healthy.”