Physical Activity

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.


Key Facts

  • 24.3% of NYU students are overweight, of which 6.0% are obese.1
  • Physical inactivity is a primary contributor to one-third of the adult population’s being
    overweight or obese.26
  • The incidence of obesity in the U.S. college-aged population has increased from 12% in 1991 to 36% in 2004.21
  • Only 45% of adults get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days per week, and adolescents are similarly inactive.9
  • 81 to 85% of adults continue the same physical activity patterns that they establish during their senior year of college.12
  • An estimated 40 to 45% of college students engage in fitness activities regularly (≥3 days/week).30,31
  • Non-exercising adults are more likely to be absent from work for more than 7 days when
    compared to those exercising at least once per week.16
  • Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are three times more likely to exercise than those with lower grades.25

Suggestions for Administrators & Staff

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.

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.33

Plan an event or activity that encourages physical activity. Events centered on physical activity can be an effective method for getting students excited and interested in health-related activities.34,35

For Example:

o Reach out to students to attend a free yoga class

o Unite around a cause by walking in a road race. Coordinate a fitness challenge within residence halls or schools.

o Field Day – Reserve a park space for a group and bring jump ropes, hula hoops, kickballs, rope for tug-o-war, and any other field day items. End the day with a healthy picnic.

o Fitness Classes – Shape Up NYC offers free fitness classes every week at dozens of locations across the five boroughs. Shape Up NYC classes are taught by expert fitness instructors who know how to make fitness fun. Class offerings are varied and include aerobics, yoga, pilates and zumba. Organize a group activity to try out a new class a few times a month.

o Organize a walking tour of an NYC neighborhood or park or promote the “Explore New York, Explore the World” program.

o Arrange a rock climbing event with students. Find more information about the rock wall at Palladium Athletic Facility.

Host an information session about 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 students, while also getting exercise!

Promote NYU’s athletic facilities to students and provide information about their hours and services. Coles Sports Center and Palladium Athletic Facility are conveniently located on campus.


physical activity indicators