National study finds Kansas State University fit to be among the best
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Students and faculty in Kansas State University's kinesiology department take advantage of research opportunities in the human exercise physiology lab. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University in Manhattan ranks second in the nation for its physical and programmatic resources that promote active living and healthy lifestyles, according to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Kinesiology and the American Kinesiology Association.
The "National Collegiate Fitness Index 2015 Report: Supporting Active Lifestyles at Colleges and Universities," released recently, details the health and fitness status of campuses across the United States. The index was designed to assist collegiate administrators and leaders with identifying resources and policies to support and improve physical activity. It also could be used by prospective students to select schools that fit their needs.
The fitness index judges campuses in three areas: transportation, which details the campus walking/parking/bicycling situation; recreational infrastructure, which counts the number of amenities such as basketball courts, weight rooms, rock climbing walls and more; and recreational policies and educational policies and services, including physical activity offerings, wellness courses and counseling, a quality kinesiology major, intramural and extramural sports teams available, and more.
According to the index, Kansas State University ranks first in the nation for its recreation infrastructure and for transportation. The university finished just 0.2 points out of the top spot, which went to Penn State University.
"This ranking reflects the excellence of the university's infrastructure, student life and our kinesiology program," said John Buckwalter, dean of the College of Human Ecology, which is home to the kinesiology department.
"What makes this ranking special is the role academics plays," said Craig Harms, head of the kinesiology department. "The goal of the index is not only to promote physical activity on campuses but also highlight the important role of kinesiology and associated research in impacting health on campuses, in higher education and in society."
Kinesiology is the scientific study of physical activity, including both the physiological and behavioral aspects applied to health.
"The kinesiology department at Kansas State University is regarded as one of the top departments in the U.S.," Harms said. "We are very proud of our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Our faculty members are internationally recognized for their research, and I believe that the education that we offer is among the best in the country."
The high mark for Kansas State University's recreation infrastructure doesn't surprise Steve Martini, director of Recreational Services. The Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex has been ranked as one of the best in the nation, offering more than 40,000 square feet of cardiovascular machines and weight equipment, more than 40 courts, indoor tracks, a 40-foot rock climbing wall and many other amenities. Outdoor facilities include sand volleyball courts; playfields for football, soccer and softball; tennis, basketball and racquetball/handball courts; a running/walking trail; and more.
"Students at K-State are very invested in their fitness and exercise patterns," Martini said. "Their participation rates in organized and individual recreation activities are very high. We have a long history of student involvement and support of our Recreational Services programs and facilities."
Developed in 2013, the National Collegiate Fitness Index began as a survey that would determine which U.S. colleges and universities promote healthy lifestyles and active living through their program and physical resources. The collegiate index is modeled after the trademarked American Fitness Index, which ranks the top 50 U.S. cities in terms of health and wellness.
Physical activity is a health-enhancing behavior throughout the life course, Harms said. "According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the research evidence clearly links moderate levels of physical activity to risk reduction for metabolic and musculoskeletal disorders as well as improvements in psychological outlook."