Michelle Zhiqing Yang / Sun Staff Photographer

Two students hold hands in Intro to Swing Dance.

November 3, 2019

Students Across the Ivy League Seek Ways to Stay Active

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Running across the Arts Quad from spinning class to sociology lecture might not always lend the best body odor, and fitting physical education classes into a jam-packed schedule can be challenging. However, Cornell students are not alone in their quest to fulfill the two-course P.E. requirement.

Some other schools in the Ivy League require the same of their students, while others offer a range of group fitness classes students can participate in at will.

“Sometimes it’s not ideal, but honestly, it’s nice to have a break,” said Revathi Athavale ’23, a student in Beginning Tae Kwon Do who appreciates Cornell’s course requirements.

Similar to Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth require their students to earn P.E. credit. Dartmouth also requires students to pass a swim test in order to graduate, according to their respective websites.

Cornell, the first college in the country to institute the two-lap test, has had all undergraduates jumping into pools since 1905.

At Dartmouth, roughly half of all students work towards the P.E. requirement by participating in sports on the varsity or club levels, according to Joann Brislin, Dartmouth’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Physical Education and Recreation.

According to The Washington Post, 21% of Dartmouth’s undergraduates are also varsity athletes, as opposed to Cornell’s 8%. Cornell athletics does offer P.E. credit to students registered with Cornell Athletics.

Brislin added that skiing and snowboarding courses are the most popular among Dartmouth students, whose New Hampshire campus is located just a short drive from several hills.

This semester, Dartmouth’s offerings include T’ai Chi Chuan and Fly Fishing.

The remaining five Ivy League universities do not have P.E. requirements, although they do have their own roster of fitness classes.

At the University of Pennsylvania, spinning classes attract the highest number of participants, with total attendance reaching over 4,500 in the spring of 2019, according to Chloe Cole, Penn Campus Recreation’s Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness. At Brown, spin and BODYPUMP group fitness courses are also well-attended, according to Kelly Sorge, Brown Recreation’s Fitness and Wellness Coordinator.

Staff at Columbia, Harvard and Princeton all similarly noted yoga classes as among the most popular group exercise options, according to the directors of physical education at those universities. Princeton offers ten yoga classes each week at no cost to students.

Yale also provides group exercise opportunities in Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Shotokan Karate, and two levels of Argentine Tango.

Recreation departments across the Ivy League also work to engage students through a variety of events, such as Princeton’s Planksgiving Challenge and Columbia’s Table Tennis Tournament, both on the docket for November.

Regardless of whether or not such exercise is required, students across the Ivy League take advantage of opportunities to stay active on campus.