EDWARDSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) —Local schools are hitting summer break and that means downtime for teenagers. The problem with that is many teens will become less physically active.

Teenagers will step away from gym classes or extracurriculars. Eyewitness News visited a local fitness center to check out a free program to help keep teens moving.

15-year-old Mann Patel is doing something he’s never done before. He’s joined a gym.

“This is my first time, the first summer. So, it’s worth it. I like the experience,” said Patel.

Less than 15% of teens met the recommended daily physical activity during the pandemic according to a report in the Journal of American Medical Association Network Open.

The benefits teenagers can reap are more than just physical.

“Other than for my physical health, I think it’s great to just get out of the house and continue to just keep my body moving and give me something to do during the day,” said Kelly Grevera, 17, from Nanticoke.

Kelly Grevera and Mann Patel are among 1,200 teens who signed up at Planet Fitness Kingston to take part in a free program called High School Summer Pass.

“Honestly, part of me did expect that number. It’s a little more than I was expecting but I’m not surprised in the slightest, no,” stated Jessie Rogers, club manager at Planet Fitness.

Planet Fitness is offering the program at no cost to teenagers 14 to 19-years-old.

The program comes on the heels of a 2021 CDC report which revealed that 40% of American teens said they felt persistently sad or hopeless. It makes programs like High School Summer Pass especially relevant.

“Physical fitness is not just physical. It’s also mental. So, even to just come here and walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes. You might not feel like you accomplished much but mentally, you’re accomplishing a lot,” explained Rogers.

It’s why both of these teens are glad they didn’t pass on High School Summer Pass.

“I think it’s very important to just continue to move,” said Grevera.

“It’s a good coping mechanism for some people, too, like if you feel really angry, some people like to come to the gym and like cool down. I’ve done that before and it works great,” Patel said.

Planet fitness did its own national study in April that found 84% of teens agree there’s never been a better time than now to focus on their overall health.