PSWS library is now a place where students can exercise their bodies and brains

Penn State Worthington Scranton students are using the new FitDesks in the campus library to get smart while helping their heart.


PSWS students multi-task by pedaling on the FitDesk elliptical machines while doing their schoolwork or even leisure reading. The low intensity physical activity is an easy way for students to fit in some healthy exercise while they study. 


It has been thought that students should study three hours per credit, meaning a 15-credit load would result in 45 hours of studying. Although, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement's findings, the average student spends about 17 hours each week preparing for classes.  Preparation for classes includes homework, reading and any other assignments.


Normally studying consists of sitting down and essentially  being physically inactive. Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama followed 131 students over four years of college and found that a whopping 70% of them packed on pounds by graduation (an average of 12 pounds, and up to 37 pounds). Students could reduce this weight gain simply by using these FitDesk machines even for a few of those 17 hours per week.


The FitDesk is the perfect solution for college students who may feel that they don't have enough time to exercise because they need to dedicate so many hours to schoolwork.


The FitDesk machines in the PSWS library was chosen specifically because they cost less than other elliptical machines and they are also quieter, which makes it a good choice for a library setting.


According to, early studies are showing remarkable improvement in focus while doing light exercise with FitDesk. Students focus and retain information better while increasing energy levels by consistently adding light exercise to each day.


The average American is sedentary for 21 hours every day. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that a key contributor to obesity is a sedentary lifestyle brought on by increased time in front of the computer, playing video games, and watching television.


Billie Walker, librarian at PSWS, said that seeing the FitDesks at a library conference in San Francisco is what sparked the idea of bringing the FitDesks to Penn State Worthington Scranton. He feels they benefit students in many ways, such as there being little to no noise while using the FitDesks and the fact that students could really do anything on them such as read, check email, browse and work on a variety of electronics.

Walker said that the students who have used the FitDesks seem to like them and think they are cool. He also stated that the smaller under-desk elliptical trainer, which is set up in front of a chair, is utilized more often than the bike. This may be due to the location of the bike being more out in the open, so Mr. Walker is looking to move both machines to a private room, away from the other library patrons, so students will feel more comfortable using them.

PSWS Nurse Amanda Jill Thoman seems to think that they are a wonderful idea, adding that studies have shown that if a person exercises at a moderate pace, it leads to an increase in focus and enhancement of memory.


However, students need to be careful not to use the machines at too fast a pace, because if someone exercises too intensely, it can overstimulate the brain, slowing down learning and information processing

That being said, she feels the new FitDesks are a beneficial way for students to get some light exercise while getting their schoolwork done. 


By Shawnna Meyers
Corporate Communication Intern