New Wellness Course Incorporates Physical Fitness

Since its early days of shop class and drownproofing, Georgia Tech has historically been a place that values physical activity. However, in recent years, the academic curriculum has not incorporated a physical component. That will change this fall when, for the first time in years, undergraduates will be able to complete their wellness course requirement with a course that includes physical fitness.

Campus Recreation Center Gym Floor
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The School of Applied Physiology has created the new Science of Physical Activity and Health course, or APPH 1050, to satisfy students’ longstanding desire to have physical activity be part of the wellness requirement previously only satisfied by Health Concepts and Strategies, or HPS 1040.

“We want students to be physically active and know it does more than impact physical health,” said Teresa Snow, academic professional in the School of Applied Physiology and wellness courses coordinator.

APPH 1050 is a two-credit-hour class that meets twice a week for 90 minutes each: once for lecture, and once for structured physical activity at the Campus Recreation Center. When signing up for the course, students will be able to choose one of four activities for the duration of the semester: running, weight lifting, yoga, or fitness 101, an option for beginner exercisers that will involve warm-up activities, circuit strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, and cool-down and stretching techniques. A $35 fee for the semester will fund the certified instructors teaching the physical fitness courses.

“For students who want to get into an exercise routine, the physical component will establish that and, hopefully, give them something they can carry on after the course,” Snow said. Grading will be predominantly based on attendance rather than performance in physical endeavors, with examinations being used to evaluate work in the lecture portions of the course. 

For those not keen on physical activity, HPS 1040 will still exist, but will now be called the Scientific Foundations of Health, or APPH 1040. However, a recent survey conducted by the Student Government Association showed overwhelming support for physical activity from undergraduates; when asked on a scale of 1 to 5 how interested they would be in taking a physical wellness class, the average response was 4.15.

“By and large from most students we’ve talked to, they’re really interested in some physical component,” said John Miller, a fifth-year industrial engineering major who spearheaded the SGA effort. “Most people look back on their time at Tech and wish they’d done more with the CRC or some physical thing. With this class, more people will develop the habit to work out or go to the gym, specially if they take it early on.” Research done by Miller and former SGA members showed that neighboring universities such as Kennesaw State University and the University of Georgia had physical classes for students.

HPS 1040 has not consistently included a physical component since the late 1990s. Students recently voiced the desire for this component in a 2012 Technique article; the request became official at a Feb. 12 Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee meeting

“The credit really goes to the students. We had an idea of how it might work, but they really had to push for it and have done a great job,” said Snow.

A big-picture hope is that increased physical activity could also permeate other aspects of student wellness.

“The more physically active and healthy you are, the less stress you have and the more fit you’ll be mentally and otherwise,” said Miller, who will graduate in May; he is currently enrolled in HPS 1040 after holding out hope for the revised course to come to fruition before his graduation.