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 Parents and Families

This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to increase your student’s participation in physical activity and exercise.

Remind your student to take advantage of NYU’s athletic facilities, as membership is at no additional cost. Coles Sports Center and Palladium Athletic Facility are conveniently located on campus.

Encourage your student to participate in NYU’s Bike Share program. 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. Students 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.

If your student has participated in sports in the past, pack the necessary equipment so your student can continue while at NYU. Although many students choose not to participate in a varsity sport, NYU offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in sports informally through intramural sports or club sports. In addition to the physical benefits of participating, this is a great way for your student to get to know other students better.

Model a physically active lifestyle for your student. Include opportunities for movement during your visits to campus.Take a walking tour around the neighborhood or to a favorite park.


physical activity indicators