Physical activity patterns during college are important influences on habitual physical activity during the full span of the adult life and, consequently, have significant implications for short- and long- term health outcomes.12 Despite the importance of physical activity on overall health, less than half of all NYU students engage in sufficient physical activity to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.1 Research indicates that during the transition to college, exercise22 and fitness levels23 usually decrease and are unlikely to improve as students get older.24 Universities are uniquely positioned to implement a comprehensive strategy for increasing physical activity by addressing individual-level factors – such as time, motivation, or skill – and determinants beyond an individual’s control – such as social, economic, environmental factors.
This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to increase NYU students’ participation in physical activity and exercise.
• Incorporate walking based trips or tours that correspond with course material. Walking is a simple yet effective way to increase physical activity and for students to experience new learning opportunities. Examples might include a trip to an art museum, or walking to the tenement museum in the lower east side. If class time does not allow for such excursions, consider replacing one assignment with a walking tour or trip.
• Encourage students to stretch or exercise during class breaks.33-36 Examples could include five minutes of jumping jacks, stretching, running up and down the stairs, or walking the hallways. By integrating physical activity into the class schedule, even on a small scale, students can increase their personal fitness.37-39 Moreover, physical activity has been shown to enhance brain function and improve on-task behavior during academic instruction time, so a short break to exercise could lead to more effective use of the remainder of the class period.40,41
• Post signage near the elevator of your department designating the nearest stairwell. At academic and administrative buildings, students are sometimes unaware of their surroundings, but a simple point-of-decision prompt such as a “Take the Stairs” sign might encourage them to integrate physical activity into daily living.42
• If there is a specific cause or issue that is discussed as part of the curriculum, find out if there is a walk, road race, or special event that corresponds with the topic. Encourage students to sign up to participate in the event, and offer extra credit as an incentive. Events focused on physical activity can be an effective method for getting students excited about participating in health-related activities and for promoting physical activity.43,44
• Promote NYU’s Bike Share program to encourage student participation (and sign up yourself!!) The NYU Bike Share Program provides free short-term bicycle rentals to NYU students, faculty, and staff who attend a Bike Share safety training workshop and enroll in the program. You can check out a lightweight Biria cruiser bikes from one of several convenient locations on campus, and drop the bike off at any other open location the same day. It’s a great way to explore NYC with your group, while also getting exercise!