General Education Program

A Strong General Education Program that Improves Fitness and Lifetime Activity

The general education program provided by the department consists of a required Personal Fitness course, HES 100, and an additional lifetime activity requirement. Discussion of health promotion, risk reduction, stress management, principles of exercise and fitness, and other contemporary health issues have been integrated into HES 100 and it will continue to provide students with an opportunity to participate in vigorous physical activity. If a student has a special health need or disability, the department works with that individual to maximize their participation and success. The increasing emphasis on health and lifestyle management within the Personal Fitness course is based on research that shows Americans are increasingly obese, sedentary, prone to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases. Statistics show that a vigorous and regular exercise program can actually reduce the impact of other risk factors including the inability to manage stress, unhealthy dietary choices, and obesity. Given the fact that these diseases are now occurring at increasingly younger ages, students need to develop a pattern of health-related behaviors that will enhance quality of life both now and in the future. Based on these data and a plethora of other research studies, the Department of Health and Exercise Science is absolutely committed to providing a program for Gustavus students that improves health-related knowledge and skills needed to promote health and prevent disease.

In addition to the Personal Fitness course, students are asked to select other courses that focus on lifetime activity and health. These courses are .25 credit courses that meet two days per week for one semester. Popular courses include relaxation, yoga, social dance, self-defense, outdoor education, and some of the more traditional lifetime activity courses such as golf, badminton, and tennis. These courses help students understand that stress management and relaxation can be achieved through exercise. They also discover activities that can be continued throughout a lifetime and they develop a social support system while engaging in health-promoting activity.

NAMASTE. Each semester, the department regularly offers several sections of a very popular activity course, Yoga. Students learn about physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), and meditative techniques (pratayahara). Students learn a valuable lifetime skill, improve fitness and health, and experience a new activity not associated with sport.

Rock climbingOutdoor Education courses are also very popular lifetime activity courses. Rock climbing, camping, canoeing, and kayaking are taught by Mark Hanson, who has a master's degree in experiential education and years of experience participating in and teaching these activities. Students not only discover new lifetime activities but learn to better appreciate and preserve the environment.

The Pilates Method, developed in the 1920's by Joseph H. Pilates, is an exercise system that improves flexibility and strength. It involves a series of controlled movements engaging both body and mind that promotes physical harmony and balance for people of all ages and physical abilities. Because the mind engages with the body to perform movements correctly, the individual experiences a new awareness of muscle function and control. Core muscles are supported and strengthened, enabling the rest of the body to move freely.

Beginning Self-Defense is a new course offered within the department as part of its general education program. Given the increase in violence and crime rates throughout the world, and the need to develop skills that can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, this course is very popular. Participants in Beginning Self-Defense learn the "whys and hows" of defensive skills, but more importantly, they develop confidence in their ability to effectively use newly acquired skills should they ever encounter aggressive or violent behaviors.