Exercising in college — everyone’s favorite oxymoron. It is an activity that most people wish to incorporate into their weekly routine, but are unable to, due to their long list of commitments and a lack of motivation. This is a sad reality considering the wide range of advantages that physical activity offers: improved mental health, longevity, and stronger bones and muscles. Tufts can do a lot more to prioritize the physical health of its students and should seek to make fitness-related opportunities more accessible.
One option is to make a semester of physical education a foundation requirement at Tufts. This requirement should ideally be fulfilled before the end of sophomore year, so students are encouraged to get into the routine of exercising early. Many schools across the country have a physical education graduation requirement. Wellesley College, for example, states that the mission behind their requirement is “to develop skills and knowledge on the importance of regular physical activity that leads to a healthy lifestyle.” Davidson College’s three-course requirement, though hefty, aims to “provide [students] with a foundation for a healthy, physically active lifestyle.” A mandated semester of physical education could increase students’ motivation to work out and improve their health without overwhelming them. Tufts already provides a variety of physical education classes, ranging from power yoga to self-defense to spinning. This niche set of activities also educates students about a variety of ways to maintain physical health. Furthermore, giving students the flexibility to decide which semester to take the class would dispel any stress accompanied with having to take an additional course; students could complete their requirement during a semester in which they have a lighter course load.
Existing programs include Tufts Student Resources (TSR) Fitness and Athletics mini courses — both excellent options that provide students with accessible and affordable physical fitness classes. Perhaps more of such classes could be free of cost; this could encourage a range of physical activity, especially from students that feel more comfortable exercising in groups or outside of the gym.
Additionally, the university can consider making opportunities relating to physical health more accessible for students. For instance, adding a shuttle stop near the Tisch Sports and Fitness Center would make the idea of going to the gym much more appealing to students. Walking to the gym in the biting wind or the pouring rain is certainly a major deterrent. Students would be more inclined to visit the gym if they don’t have to worry about braving the weather along the way. Moreover, most students have a fixed amount of time for themselves amidst competing commitments — walking to and from the gym takes a considerable amount of time, which could be better used working out in the fitness center. A shuttle stop would alleviate this problem by allowing students to optimize their time at the fitness center without being overly concerned about the time the journey will take.
Exercising during a hectic week is unarguably a difficult task. However, when looking at the benefits of frequent exercise, it is clear that physical fitness should be incorporated into students’ schedules. Tufts should incentivize students to work out and to lead healthy lives.