Healthiest Colleges Selected for 2015

by Mark D. Weinstein, Executive Director of Public Relations

The list of 20 healthiest colleges and universities in the United States was recently released and three Ohio institutions are listed in the top 20. The highest ranked university in southwest Ohio is Cedarville University —ranked No. 2  overall, while the University of Akron is viewed as the healthiest in the country. Cincinnati State College placed No. 11.

Following the University of Akron and Cedarville University in the top 10 are Dartmouth, Harvard, University of Denver, Georgetown University, University of Alabama, University of Texas, University of Michigan--Flint, and Central Piedmont Community College. The University of Maryland (13) and Purdue University (14) are the only Big Ten universities (main campus) on the list.

Cedarville University was cited for its predominately drug- and alcohol-free campus. These are significant factors in maintaining good physical, emotional and spiritual health. But at the core of Cedarville's healthy standard is its general education course Physical Activity in the Christian Life (PACL) that all students take as freshmen.

In PACL, students learn about the important role fitness and health play in a successful life. Professors center their instruction on fitness, aerobic exercise, strength and flexibility in the semester-long course. Once a benchmark has been determined for students' overall fitness, professors help them increase their aerobic endurance, physical strength and flexibility capabilities so they can lead more productive lives. Students are also taught nutritional information and how to handle stress —or to avoid stress.

Each student must do an aerobic exercise for 30 minutes three days a week for 12 weeks and have a weight training regimen twice a week for 10 weeks to pass this class. This structure will help students for the rest of their lives, according to Jeff Reep, director of career services and a professor in PACL.

"PACL is the one class that all students will use for the rest of their lives," said Reep. "We teach students from their freshman year on the importance of caring for their physical well-being. By making good choices in exercise, eating and handling stress, we believe people will be more productive, and, most importantly, their lifestyles will honor God."

Most universities offer some type of physical fitness program. What sets Cedarville's course apart, however, is its concentration on using our bodies and minds to honor God. 

"We are continually working to help our students develop God-honoring habits in PACL," said Evan Hellwig, Ph.D., chair of the department of kinesiology and allied health. "The students who take this course seriously will develop life-enhancing skills that will serve them well for the rest of their life."

Cedarville University also offers its students and faculty and staff a fitness center with free weights, aerobic exercise equipment and multiple gym floors for various sports and activities. The school's main dining hall also provides health-conscious people the opportunity to eat well on a daily basis.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,620 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings.