Study snacks, pigging out on pizza and the infamous "freshman 15" are all common characteristics of the college lifestyle. Many students don't realize how damaging these behaviors can be in the long run. To combat these habits, universities use mandated physical education courses to teach students about healthy eating and exercise early in adulthood. Fitness, wellness and various sports and activity courses are all common requirements students can choose from in college.

Fitness Foundations

College fitness classes help students develop healthy exercise habits through cardiovascular and muscular activity. Often, students work out as part of class time, usually at a university fitness center, or are required to log a required number of exercise hours for the semester. Additionally, they learn to evaluate the success of their exercise programs by determining target heart rate, body fat percentage, weight and other physiological statistics. Students also set personal fitness goals, write papers about various aspects of exercise and take exams on lecture material.

Ways of Wellness

College students face numerous social pressures when it comes to lifestyle choices. Experimenting with alcohol and drugs and unhealthy weight loss techniques can all set the course for major health problems down the road. Wellness classes instruct students about good nutrition, making healthy choices and how the decisions they make today can impact their quality of life. At Central Connecticut State University, all freshmen take a wellness class where they set healthy goals for the semester, keep nutrition diaries and write journal entries about how their new behaviors affect their bodies and minds.

Activities in Action

Along with fitness and wellness, many universities also mandate that students take at least one class in a sport or activity. To fulfill this requirement, students can enroll in classes like tennis, basketball, volleyball, bowling and badminton. For non-sports fans, many schools offer courses in dance, pilates, yoga, aerobics and swimming. At some universities, intercollegiate athletes or members of intramural sports can also receive credit for these classes through participation in their chosen activity.

Tackling the Test

In the early to mid-20th century, college students frequently had to pass a fitness or swimming test for graduation. Today, this requirement has become less common due to the variety of intramural clubs and sports on campuses. Nonetheless, the nationwide increase in obesity has motivated many universities, such as Coker College, to keep these tests on graduation requirement lists. The South Carolina school requires all freshmen to run or walk one mile, do sit-ups and push-ups and evaluate their BMIs. Cornell University and other colleges require students to pass a swim test for graduation.