Feature Article - June 2008
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Fit and Healthy on Campus

An Emphasis on Wellness
Fitness & Wellness Represent Top 3 Planned Programs at Colleges & Universities

Programs focused on personal fitness and wellness were among the top three programs planned for addition at college and university facilities over the next three years.

Personal training, currently provided by 51.9 percent of respondents' facilities, was the top planned program. More than 14 percent of respondents indicated that their facilities plan to add personal training as a program option for students and faculty using their facilities.

While nutrition and diet counseling are currently only offered by 35.9 percent of facilities, this type of program was the second most commonly planned addition. More than 12 percent of college and university respondents indicated that they planned to add nutrition and diet counseling programs to their offerings.

Finally, fitness programs, currently provided by more than three-quarters (75.2 percent) of respondents, are the third most commonly planned program addition. More than 12 percent of college and university respondents said they plan to add fitness programs to their lineup.

In a 2007 article for Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), author Phillip B. Sparling, Ed.D., explained that while campus services have long been established to manage "the perennial coming-of-age issues associated with substance abuse and sexual behavior," these issues often overshadow "the need to emphasize the mundane but important habits of eating healthfully and exercising regularly."

He cites findings from a national survey conducted in 2005 that indicated that three out of 10 college students are either overweight or obese, nine of 10 students eat less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and six in 10 participate in less than three days per week of vigorous intensity or moderate intensity activity.

"Although excess weight, poor nutrition and insufficient physical activity are not emergencies that require immediate action, their urgency should not be underestimated," he writes.

Tackling obesity on campus represents a unique opportunity to reach students, he added, because they are "open to change and challenge as they reexamine their lifestyle choices."

It's an ideal time to encourage students to improve their eating and exercise habits.

"At the same time," Sparling writes, "we have the capacity to provide a supportive environment by providing and promoting good food choices and multiple options for physical activity, including pedestrian-friendly campuses."

Surely the participants in this year's study who are planning to add wellness programs are at the forefront of the battle against campus obesity, and they will be well-positioned to address future generations of students with fitness and wellness options that can last a lifetime.