SALEM, Va. —A survey by Men’s Fitness magazine ranks Roanoke College as the 19th fittest college in America. In its November issue, the magazine compiles what it calls the “dean’s list of the 25 fittest” colleges. The magazine consulted with The Princeton Review on the survey, which asked 12,500 students across the country about their diet and exercise habits and the availability on campus of food options, fitness facilities and resources.
The recognition didn’t startle students at Roanoke College, which emphasizes health and fitness in a variety of programs.
“I’m not surprised about our College's ranking,” says Kerry Peterson, a senior from Rhode Island. “We have such flexible gym hours and amazing food selections in the cafeteria. Having the school surround us with all these benefits, it's hard not to adapt to healthy habits.”
Last year, Peterson lived on campus in “theme” housing that focuses on fitness and wellness. This year, a dozen other students are in that area, which is called the “Wellness Journey.”
Theme housing is just one of the ways Roanoke College has incorporated health and fitness into daily campus life. Every student is required to participate in a “fitness for life” program, which includes lecture, discussion and physical activities. The goal is to introduce students to health and physical fitness components related to developing a healthy lifestyle. The courses include physical fitness activities, health risk components, assessment and the development of a personal health and fitness plan. Among the classes offered are cardio kickboxing, aerobics, jogging, walking and rollerblading. Later, students can take other classes like tai chi, karate, pilates, yoga, tennis, racquetball, backpacking or golf.
Scott Allison, a 1979 graduate of Roanoke College and now its director of athletics, credits the College’s Belk fitness center, which he says is the most-used facility on campus, and the dining services, which provide healthy options for all students.
“Basically, we’re promoting a healthy lifestyle,” Allison says. “When students graduate, they realize the importance of having a healthy life.”
Roanoke College offers a major in athletic training in which students complete a 120-hour senior internship with the team orthopedist and local physical therapists, where they observe surgeries and work directly with patients. Students also complete a field experience with a local high school football team. Roanoke athletic training graduates outperform the national average pass rate on the board of certification exam for athletic trainers, and many have gone on to become head athletic trainers at the college level. Other graduates have worked in professional sports, such as NFL Europe and Arena Football, or in hospitals and clinics around the country.
The College also offers a major in health and human performance and concentrations in exercise science, exercise and sport management, physical activity and aging and sports communication. Those students have formed a club called the Student Wellness Awareness Team, known affectionately as SWAT. The team promotes healthy lifestyles and education by hosting a number of events each academic year. College staff members also have established a wellness group, which meets regularly and has frequent lectures and discussions facilitated by faculty members from the health and human performance department.
Other campus activities include “Yoga for Everyone,” free yoga classes sponsored by the student activities office and open to the entire campus. Many students also opt for physical activity programs as part of the College’s Co-Curricular Learning and Service (CCLS) program, which requires students to get involved in campus activities and community service.
Roanoke College, the country’s second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the “best in the Southeast.” Roanoke’s 1,970 students represent 40 states across the U.S. and 26 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.