Follow up on “A for effort, F for execution”

Well, it seems that the folks who wanted over-fat students to take mandatory exercise have re-thought their strategy. Interestingly, it seems as though policy makers preferred dropping the requirement for an exercise class to making everyone take said classes.

James DeBoy, the chairman of Lincoln’s health, physical education and recreation department proposed that instead of the mandatory class, students enrolled in a required freshman wellness course could be given an overall health risk assessment and invited to take a voluntary for-credit exercise course if that would maximize their “quality and quantity of life.”

Umm… I’d think that “maximizing quality and quantity of life” via exercise would pretty much hold true for everyone. It’s a bit of a shame that exercise classes have become something so punitive — or maybe they always were punitive (I remember my grade-school gym class traumas very well). “Exercise class” in this context sounds only slightly more fun than “calculus drills” or “removing your skin with a potato peeler”.

Why does this have to be executed in such a disciplinary, shaming, finger-wagging format? And why must “exercise” be something that one has to perform in a specially approved facility, under the supervision of experts?

I bet many of the students uncomfortable with the exercise class would much rather go dancing than take “aerobics”. I bet the right kind of inspiring coach could talk a lot of students into becoming strength athletes.

  • Why not set up a community garden and give credit for agricultural work? And link it to a community kitchen, giving credit for developing and implementing healthy eating strategies? (And sharing these with the surrounding communities)?
  • Why not set up a child care program and give credit for running around after toddlers?
  • Why not set up an outdoor recreation program and give credit for hiking, climbing, canoeing, etc.? (Google Maps tells me there’s a state park 10 miles away.)
  • Why not set up a dance program and give credit for awesome moves busted out?
  • Why not put in walking and cycling paths/bike lockers, and give credit for people who walk and cycle?

There are so, so many ways to incorporate activity into the daily fabric of life. It seems, however, that we still think about exercise like we think about prison.