Commentary: Gym classes in college have mental and physical benefits....and then some.
By Jacob Bila
It’s that time of the year again when the weather starts to chill and college students spend more time indoors, whether it be studying or bing watching their latest Netflix marathon. But are they keeping themselves active enough? Some are student athletes and train, some exercise for their own health, and some do minimal to no exercise at all.
Aside from college athletes who constantly exercise and train to compete to their best physical ability in sports, 40% of all college students engage in some form of physical activity or exercise. That’s less than half of all college students, showing that a majority are sedentary. It’s not that they are lazy, they are just unmotivated. There is no incentive for them to be active unless they are getting something out of it other than a good workout.
In college, young adults develop lifestyle habits that go into their adult lives including habits of physical activity. But it’s hard to develop these habits when most students are already spending hours on campus listening to lectures, studying, and working a part-time job among other responsibilities. This where having gym classes can be beneficial in health and academics. Requiring physical education classes in colleges would not only encourage college students to be more physically active but also can motivate them to develop fitness habits that they will stick to in the long run.
Brad Cardinal, a kinesiology professor at Oregon State University, described which students would pick these classes: “When there is no requirement but the courses are available as electives, the students who take the courses tend to be those who are already active and motivated. Those students already have an affinity toward physical activity and the institution supports it.” This only reflects a small number of students who are consistently physically active. Making gym classes mandatory would motivate more students to be more active because they will be getting something in return: CREDITS.
Oregon State University is one of few universities in the country to have a physical education requirement in their curriculum. If this were to be the same for most colleges, young adults would be active and would take this into the years beyond college. Along with this, it can help students struggling with anxiety and depression.
Being physically active helps clear the mind, helps people develop better confidence and determination, as well as reduces the risk of obesity and future health problems. It just goes to show what benefits can come out of making gym classes mandatory, including credits towards a degree.