PLT4M hosted an essay contest for students across the country. Check out the full prompt here.

We asked students: In less than 750 words, you have to convince ‘Sedentary Industries’ that physical education is important to you. Why does physical activity and fitness matter to you?

We received hundreds of submissions and are now down to the finalists.

Congrats to Jenna Larson from Canton High School in Massachusetts for being a finalist!

Jenna's Essay

I love sweating. Well, no, I don’t really. Let me rephrase: I love knowing I just worked so hard on something that my shirt is a completely different color. If I’m going to put myself through the misery of working out, I might as well give it my very best. Now I don’t necessarily think every kid should be forced into a strenuous workout every day at school, however I think everyone should learn the feeling of accomplishment you get after exercise.

One of the most important things for students especially to remember is that a great workout doesn’t only come from running a mile or doing fifty pushups. Some of the best and most fun workouts I’ve ever done have come from hiking, spinning, and dancing.

The more variety schools have in their physical education programs, the more kids will find things they actually enjoy doing. One of my favorite ways to get a good sweat in is by doing zumba. I did it for the first time in gym class at school and now frequently do it in my house when I feel like getting my blood flowing during the week.

This is something I’ll keep doing far after my high school life ends. Physical Education in schools can help kids find something they like to keep them active when they aren’t forced to do something for an hour at school.

My best memories of working out come from my summer workouts with my dad. Every summer we train for my upcoming volleyball season at my school’s track and field. We get some music going on a speaker and run a mile at most (sometimes we give up after two laps.) After that, we grab our volleyball and pass around for almost an hour. In between we do some strengthening work, but volleyball is the best part. On the summer evenings when it’s not unbearably hot, we feel like we never want to leave. Why would we when we’re doing something fun together that we know is good for us? Even on the unbearably hot mornings, we want to power through and do everything because we know an iced coffee and a day of opportunities are right in front of us.

Working out with a positive mindset can change who you are for the rest of your day. Having that mindset every time and being consistent with exercise can change who you are for the rest of your life. I’m inspired by the people around me who put their health first and take care of themselves all the time. My brother is one of the biggest gym rats I know. Any free hour he can find, he spends at the gym. Even he likes trying new things even if they’re challenging. Once, my sister, and I went to a spin class together. Like I said, he is one of the most in-shape people I know, and he was far more sore than my sister and I were the next day. He didn’t realize how hard it would be, but he tried it anyway. That’s what students in schools should be doing. They should be exploring the world of fitness and finding out what works best for them. Maybe they’ll do yoga, run marathons, dance around in their rooms. Whatever it is, they should be encouraged to try everything and not be afraid to break a sweat.