While more than half of four-year colleges and universities in the United States have dropped physical education requirements, Oregon State University is taking extra steps to ensure its students are getting – and staying – physically active.
As part of a baccalaureate core fitness requirement, every Oregon State student is required to take a Physical Activity Course (PAC). And what program administrators have found is that although it’s a requirement, most students report they are happy they took a PAC class because it was fun, they met new friends and are now more inclined to continue exercising on a regular basis.
“We had a prior student email one of our instructors to say thank you for teaching a dance class because it was one of the most impactful classes they took at Oregon State,” says Physical Activity Programs Director Drew Ibarra. “That student told the instructor they met their wife in the PAC class and that he and his wife dance socially using skills they learned in class.”
“PAC pretty much has changed my health for the better. I’m really thankful for that.”
“I took eight PAC classes during my undergrad years,” says OSU alum Michael McDonald. “The classes ranged from deep water aerobics to rock climbing to dancing. What I enjoyed most is that it was a good break from a day of classes. Rather than sitting in a lecture, I got to do something that was usually outside and active. It’s a refreshing break.”
Classes are offered in various locations on the Oregon State campus, as well as off-site in places such as Mount Hood, Mary’s Peak and Newport beach.
“PAC has benefited me greatly,” says Public Health student and PAC participant Jesse Grow. “At first it was just a workout class to keep active and learn different kinds of workouts to help me exercise outside of class. But now, it pretty much has changed my health for the better. I’m really thankful for that.”
Housed in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, the PAC program offers more than physical activity, and includes a range of health and wellness-related topics such as stress management and mindfulness techniques.
“We pride ourselves in developing self-confidence, a sense of community for the students, communication skills and, in some cases, leadership skills they can take with them once they leave,” Drew says. “One of our main guiding philosophies is to socially engage and connect students to others while they’re taking our classes.”
Open to all Oregon State students, PAC classes are designed for those of all abilities. “We try to meet students where they’re at, but also challenge them to achieve something greater,” he says.
“We pride ourselves in developing self-confidence, a sense of community for the students, communication skills and, in some cases, leadership skills they can take with them once they leave.”
“PAC classes have helped me with triathlon training,” says Kinesiology student and PAC participant Keet Dailey. “I recently got into triathlons, and taking the Triathlon Training class has helped me set up a training schedule. I also started taking a Pilates class, which I initially thought I would take just to get a credit and maybe get a little relaxation or stretching out of it. But I have noticed a difference in my training and I now incorporate Pilates into my triathlon training.”
PAC instructors come to the program from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including All-Americans, collegiate level coaches, those who have won national championships and more.
“We take pride in the level of qualification the instructors have and what we provide to students,” Drew says.
Watch the video above to hear more from PAC participants and see how PAC benefits the lives of Oregon State students.