Doing exercise is an important aspect of our daily lives. However, research studies reveal that the number of people who do exercise on daily is extremely low. For example, Llewellyn and Gordon assert that only ten percent of people aged between fourteen and thirty-five years exercise regularly in the United States of America (18). This implies that nearly five percent of the active population in America does not exercise. Moreover, it is claimed that only twelve percent of students in colleges and universities exercise regularly. According to Amen, lack of exercise poses numerous health risks to most Americans (24).
According to Tully and Cupples, approximately two-thirds of university students in the U.S. take heavy meals every day, but only seven percent of these students exercise regularly as recommended by health professionals (659). Similarly, Llewellyn and Gordon assert that more than seventy percent of students in major universities in the United States do not exercise regularly (91). Thus, there is urgent need to improve exercise amongst students in universities. This would help in improving their health as well as academic performance. According to Ratey and Hagerman, exercise improves learning on three different levels. Firstly, it increases performance of the brain by increasing alertness, concentration and motivation. Secondly, exercise prepares and encourages nerve cells of the brain to bind together thus increasing learning. Thirdly, exercise facilitates generation and development of new nerve cells in the brain, hence improves learning (185). Various experimental research studies have also been conducted to establish how exercise boosts learning abilities of students. According to Blumenstein, Bar-Eli and Tenenbaum, exercise improves learning by increasing blood flow within the body (219). Increased supply of blood in the brain leads to increased communication between brain neurons. Medina also affirms that regular exercise also elevates the performance of neurotransmitters in addition to creating a balance of neurochemicals of the brain (376). This leads to increased brain activity, hence higher learning abilities. In attempts to answer the question of how exercise helps improve the performance of students, researcher Medina affirms that exercise increases the flow of blood in the body (394). Consequently, blood flow in the brain is also increased. Increase in blood flow in the brain leads to increased exchange of hormones and nutrients in the brain.
The thesis for the proposal is to determine ways in which exercise can be improved in universities.
Why Exercise in Universities?
Most students usually differ in support for exercise within universities. For example, most female students usually argue that their major goal for involvement in exercise is to reduce body weight and become slimmer, cute and adorable. Similarly, most male students often go to the gym because they want to build more muscles and become more masculine and handsome. On the other hand, some students dislike doing exercise because they view exercise as a strenuous activity with less importance in their lives. According to Tully and Cupples, most students in universities view exercise as an old-fashioned activity that should be done only in high schools (662). Most students label exercise as an awful activity.
In my view, such students usually base their arguments for doing exercise on emotional appeals and psychological concerns. Despite these emotion-based reasons for and arguments against exercise, I would assert that it is important for colleges and universities to introduce appropriate programs that would encourage involvement of students in exercises or physical activities. For example, universities should develop curriculums that incorporate exercise as a minor subject in most courses. Logically, exercise has been cited as an effective tool for improving alertness or attentiveness amongst students. It helps students to be more awake in classrooms. It also helps in increasing the thinking ability of students. Thus, exercise is good for university students, especially during academic sessions or semesters when there are lots of works to be done. Exercises are also useful during examination periods when students need to think extensively and intensively.
In addition, exercise helps in increasing energy levels within the body as well as reduction of boredom during studies. According to Blumenstein, Bar-Eli and Tenenbaum, exercise also helps in improving physical health, hence boots self-esteem and self-confidence (338). This would results into high performances amongst university students. In my opinion, a student who is healthy, physically fit and highly active is more likely to perform better in academics than a student who is not healthy or physically fit. This is because body health and physical fitness are directly related the performance of an individual both academically and socially. A research study conducted by Medina on performance of employees at the workplace also revealed that workers who are healthy and physically fit are more motivated, alert, productive and successful at the workplace (406). Thus, good health and physical fitness are key determinants of personal performance and productivity.
How to Improve Exercise in Universities
In my view, the management or administrators of universities can improve exercise within the institutions by providing students with appropriate facilities. This would encourage students to do more exercises. Students should also be reminded that doing exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym every day. Exercises can be done anywhere anytime. In addition, students should be encouraged to persuade their fellow students to get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports and games. Universities can also teach students appropriate techniques and skills for exercising, for example, proper management of time for exercise. This would include encouraging students to run for thirty minutes in the morning, go for physical education (PE) for twenty minutes and walk for another thirty minutes in the evening. Girls should get at least one hour of aerobic exercises every day whereas boys should be engaged in more strenuous exercises such as weight lifting. As Amen states, doing exercise regularly concerns proper time management (180).
Similarly, students should also be taught how to conduct hidden exercises, for example, students should be required to walk to campus instead of driving or taking a bus, to use stairs in buildings instead of using the elevators and lifts as well as to park their cars away from classrooms in order to give them ample time for walking to classes as they exercise. Exercise in the universities can also be improved by requiring students who fail to attend two or more classes to do yoga, frog jumps or pilates. Students should also be required to make two lapses around the football pitch for failure to submit assignments on time. Students who stay within the campus should also go for mandatory morning runs every day as part of the exercise programs.
In my view, these suggestions would not only improve exercise within the universities but also help compel students to focus more on academics. Although most students are likely to rise against these rules, it is important for universities to adopt them and to ensure that they are fully implemented and adhered to by the student fraternity. Similarly, adequate education and awareness programs would also help in convincing and persuading the students to accept the rules.
Although it might not be ethical to force students to engage in exercises and other physical activities against their wills or wishes, I would argue that any action taken by universities to improve exercise within the institutions is for the good and interests of the students. For example, due to improved exercise, more students are likely to develop good health and perform better academically.
In my view, all university students should be involved in exercises regardless of their gender. Universities should develop appropriate rules and regulations that require all students to exercise regularly, especially within the institutions. Improving exercise in universities is important because it would help in improving the performance of students as well as help in ensuring that students live healthy lifestyles. For example, increased involvement of students in physical activities would help in reducing obesity and diseases like high blood pressure amongst students.