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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago

“Meathead,” “jock,” and “ogre” are not usually words that you would associate with high intelligence, or so is the stereotype. It is a very common stereotype that people who you always find exercising in the gym are not intelligent. When a person sees somebody who is “ripped,” most people think that person is immediately lacking in intelligence and that they spend absolutely all their time in the gym and no time studying. This is absolutely not true, in fact, in studies that have been done, physical exercise helps to produce endorphins and also helps to stimulate the mind and improves mental health.

Studies show that people who exercise more do better on tests and other work. It is strange because more selective colleges such as ivy league schools have been choosing “well-rounded” students for years, which means students that got involved in many extra-curricular activities in their high schools, such as sports teams. Those students, if involved in sports in high school were obviously doing a lot of exercise while in high school, which attributes to their success and excellent performance in their classes, making them eligible for consideration into one of these more selective colleges. It has been sort of a prerequisite to be a “well-rounded student” to be accepted into a selective college for years, but now it is proven that exercising leads to better performance in class.

Physical exercise can be a wide variety of activities. Exercise can be anything from walking to running to playing sports to lifting weights. There is no single activity that is the definition of exercise. Exercise is defined as “activity that requires physical or mental exertion, especially when performed to develop or maintain fitness”(dictionary.com). By definition, if somebody is trying to develop or maintain fitness, which would be the main reason why they would be found in a gym or weight room, then they are exercising and they are getting all of the benefits that go with exercising. The definition of fitness is “good health or physical condition, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition”(dictionary.com). Everybody should want to be in good health or physical condition, so people should want to exercise, but most people don't exercise on a regular schedule or even exercise at all.

Why don't people exercise regularly if it is so good for them? Most people just lack the motivation to exercise. Some people are simply afraid that they will look weak in a weight room or look slow running on a track and don't want to embarrass themselves. Some people lack the energy to go out and exercise. Other people lack the time to exercise, or they don't care enough to try to fit it into their schedules.

Exercising takes time and often involves traveling to some place other than where a person lives. Unless a person has adequate equipment in their house, they will have to go some place else to exercise. In the case of students at college, they have to leave their rooms and go to a weight room or fitness center that is in a building that could be a 10 minute walk away. Those students need definite motivation to go out and exercise, and most students do not get that motivation.

There is a solution for those students to get motivated to go exercise, especially here at Penn State. Freshman at Penn State would be the most effected by increased awareness and increased exercise opportunity. If there would be a program put into place that would allow students to get credit for class for exercising regularly, and would be made aware of this, there would inherently be a great increase in the amount of students exercising regularly and that you could find in the fitness centers and gym facilities around campus.

About 70% of people who exercise regularly for more than 6 months typically continue to exercise, or at least about 70% of people who get new gym memberships and don't drop out in the first 6 months keep their memberships for many months after that(Manchesteronline.com). While about 50% of people who get new gym memberships drop out within 6 months, the period of time included in about one college semester would be enough time to form a definite exercise pattern and exercise routine in many students' schedules, and would greatly increase the amount of students exercising on a regular basis.

If there was General Education(Health and Physical Activities) credit available for freshman at Penn State, there would be more students exercising and therefore doing better in all their classes. This could be accomplished without too much work or expense. If incoming freshman at Penn State were given free gym memberships for their first semester and told at their FTCAP meeting that they had the opportunity to earn free General Education credit for simply exercising, then there would be a high influx of students into the gym facilities on campus. Freshman have a lot of trouble schedule Gen. Ed. Gym classes because of the amount of upper-classmen that schedule before them and take all of the spots in the gym classes. Therefore, this would also solve the problem of all the gym classes being packed full of students, and would allow more students to choose a gym class that they would truly be interested in taking, instead of just taking a random one to fill course requirements and taking somebody else's potential spot in that class.

There are already machines that students have to swipe their Penn State ID cards into at all the fitness centers on campus, which could be modified in order to record the amount of time students spend there each time and keep a record of all the students. What I would propose would be that if a student would complete a designated amount of hours in a gym on campus a week, for example, 2 hours a week, they would be able to earn a General Education credit for Health and Physical Activity. The machines in the gyms would keep a record of each students' progress, and at the end of the semester, if they had spent enough time in the gym, they could talk to their academic advisor and have it arranged to earn credit for their exercise. Even students who wouldn't get enough time to earn the credit would still be able to spend time in the gym facilities if they wanted, and could get a better view and understanding of that environment and maybe decide they would want a gym membership in the future.

Students who would get on a regular exercise routine and schedule would also be more likely to buy gym memberships in their future semesters at Penn State. This would lead to more income to the university. Students would most likely follow the typical trend of adults that stick to exercising for more than 6 months and would also continue to exercise for at least another 6 months. There are many students at Penn State who would love the opportunity to earn easy General Education credits, as the classes are sometimes difficult to get into, or are all already full by the time that they get to schedule.

Students who would exercise would also be around a lot more people every day. While going to the same classes at the same times every day, students are exposed to the same people every day. The only time they see new people is when they go out to eat, if they do. At the gyms, where there are a lot of different people of different ages, backgrounds, and majors, a wide variety of students would be able to meet each other and be exposed to new things. This would broaden the students' social lives and increase their social health as well.

There would be less depression on campus in students. It has been proved time after time that more exercise in a person's weekly schedule lifts their mood and puts them in a better mood. “One in four women and one in six men will suffer from depression at some point in their lives”(betterhealth.vic.gov.au). That alone is a startling statistic, and anything that can be done to help that would be a positive step for society. Increasing awareness and promoting exercise, a depression-decreasing activity, would help to fight the growing problem of depression in our society, and it would come at very little or no cost.

There is also the problem of anxiety, that goes along with depression. A high amount of anxiety and stress increases the chance of depression. At college, there is a great deal of stress and anxiety placed on students every day. There is the stress and anxiety put on students from upcoming tests, from papers that are due, from quizzes, from other homework. Students need a safe, effective way to release that stress and that anxiety. In a 16 week study done at Duke University Medical Centre of 156 people, “60.4 per cent of participants in the exercise group were no longer classified as clinically depressed after treatment”(betterhealth.vic.gov.au). That statistic speaks for itself. In 16 weeks, about the same length of time as a college semester at Penn State University, 60.4 percent of people were cured of their depression. That means that if 1 in 5 people on average suffer from depression at some point in their lifetime, and there are 40,000 students at Penn State, if all of them were to exercise, and 1 in 5 of them had depression when starting, there would initially be 8,000 people with depression, and after exercising for 16 weeks, there would be 4,832 people cured of their depression, and only 3,168 people remaining with depression, or about 2 in every 25 people at the University remaining with depression. Penn State could start a nation-wide trend for universities to start exercise programs for their students. Other universities would only have to look at the results that Penn State would have to follow in its footsteps. To drastically reduce a problem as serious as depression would set a new standard nation-wide.

With a greater number of students that would be going to the gyms all the time, the facilities would always have to be improved. This would create a larger expense, but would be paid for by gym membership fees anyway. The gym facilities would be something that could be proudly shown on any tour for new students. Gym facilities should be something that perspective students take into consideration when choosing a college. With as many students as this new program would affect, the facilities at Penn State would definitely have to be the finest facilities around. When compared to other schools, Penn State could have the finest facilities that would have sway people into choosing to earn their degrees from Penn State, earning more income for the university.

Also, people who do not suffer from clinical depression do better in their jobs. If these people would continue to exercise, they would continue to improve their mental and physical fitness, and they would work their way up the corporate ladder once they graduated college and earned their degrees. This would lead to more successful alumni, and would make Penn State an even more accredited university. There would be more alumni as presidents and vice presidents of companies as well as in other key roles that many people depend on, and it would all be credited back to the university which gave them the education and the ability to succeed. New gyms in communities would be started by Penn State graduates who have learned the importance of exercise, and this would create new social networks in the world after college, and help other people who might be suffering from depression.

Some people might say that exercise is not as important as many other things in life. While exercise does not directly improve grades in college, one of the side-effects is improved performance in class. It may take up time from the day that could be spent doing exercise, but as has already been stated, physical exercise has been proved to increase mental health as well as lower stress. When people are under a heavy amount of stress, it leads to heavy drinking, increased drug use, sickness absence, and many other things(lhc.org.uk). Drug use and heavy drinking are already growing problems, and, like depression, if the rates of each could be decreased, then it would be a great step forward for the university and society in general. If stress also leads to sickness absence, then that means that students who are under higher amounts of stress will attend less class. If they attend less of their class, then they won't learn as much of the material that they are supposed to learn and might miss quizzes or assignments or tests, or won't do them as well as they could have if they had been in class. Therefore, a direct effect of exercise is lowering stress, and a direct effect of lowering stress is better grades, so exercise would increase academic performance in college.

Every new incoming freshman has to go to a FTCAP meeting at some point in order to meet with an academic adviser and to schedule their first semester classes. At these FTCAP meetings, the students are bombarded with loads of information that they take in and remember for their first semester at school, as well as for when scheduling time comes for their second semester. At this FTCAP meeting, when they go to meet privately with their academic advisers, they could very easily be told about the opportunity to earn General Education credit, it would be very likely that the students would take advantage of that opportunity.

Incoming freshman usually develop trends within their first couple of weeks at college that they maintain at least throughout the rest of the semester, if not longer. If in the first few weeks of college those students start exercising regularly, then they will continue to exercise for the rest of their college careers. They are also more likely to meet a lot more people in those first few weeks and make friends with people that they otherwise would not talk to but would make friends with by being in the gyms at the same time as the other students. For a lot of students, the people that they make friends with the first few weeks of college remain their best friends for the rest of their college careers.

Students who would meet other students in gyms would have much healthier relationships with them. Instead of going out on a Friday night and consuming large amounts of alcohol or doing various other drugs, these students might decide to go to the gym and workout together instead. Time spent working out is spent a lot better than if that time would be spent out drinking or doing something else harmful to their bodies. There is no doubt that exercise that improves a student's physical health is much better for them than something that could be dangerous or even deadly to that same student's health.

There are hundreds of students who walk around looking for just a party to go to every night of the weekend, some starting as early as Wednesday night or even every day of the week. If the idea of exercising and earning college credit would even come to mind to those students, if they would participate in exercising instead of partying, then they would be a lot better off over the weekend.

Students who get more hours of sleep each night do better in their classes. College students do not typically get an adequate amount of sleep every night. They miss out on some of the REM cycle of sleep, which is the most important for learning efficiency(findarticles.com). If students would be spending their time exercising instead of partying, they would get to bed earlier and therefore sleep longer. With more sleep, those same students would be healthier and be doing better in their classes.

The only possible negative effect of this new program would be the cost of new facilities. New facilities that would be necessary to hold and meet the needs of the high number of students that would be using them could cost a lot. But once again, these facilities would be something to be proud of. Also, these facilities would be well worth the costs for all the benefits that would go with the program.

Improving the awareness of the advantages of exercising is very important for today's society with all of the growing problems. It would make all the students in the university do better in their classes, as well as get them into better physical shape. There would be less depression and stress and it would solve other common problems.













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