The MIT Physical Education Program’s Health and Wellness courses offer a unique student experience through hybrid coursework: half of the course is instructional physical activity, and the other half is discussion-based. Bodyweight exercises and stretches are taught so that they could be replicated anywhere, such as a dorm room or a park. In addition to fitness principles, classes also cover practical issues such as nutrition and stress-management.
Dylan R. Lewis ‘20 entered MIT in summer 2016 as part of Interphase, which allows pre-freshman to complete some academic courses and one physical education course before freshman orientation. Dylan’s prospective major is Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3), and after graduation he would like work with renewable technology to make it more affordable and efficient. As his physical education course, Dylan selected Fitness and Stress Management, followed by Fitness and Nutrition in the fall. A desire to develop healthy habits that could be easily integrated into his daily routine at MIT drew him to these topics.
Dylan says he is reaping the benefits of the health and wellness courses now, and has integrated some of the lessons he learned into his life as an MIT student. “It has enhanced my MIT experience and life overall,” he says.
Before attending the courses, Dylan did not view meditation and stress management as a priority; in fact, this was something he would have put off before. But, “You can’t really do that, especially as an MIT student,” he observed. Dylan manages stress by incorporating practices such as meditation and exercise into his lifestyle. He said that if Physical Education was not a requirement, he would not have found a way to manage his stress, or set aside a time in the day to exercise. Through his Fitness and Nutrition course Dylan also learned how to make better informed nutrition decisions, such as reading food labels carefully and being more mindful of what he eats.
“The physical education requirement can feel like a burden,” he said. But, “It has had the opposite effect, and is really key. It makes sense why MIT makes it a requirement,” he added.
His advice for fellow MIT students? “Truly take advantage of the health and wellness courses,” Dylan said. Also, he suggested committing to the full 40-minute classes, expending maximum effort during the exercise portion and paying close attention during the discussion. Further, because he pushed himself, Dylan was able to turn that 20 minutes into an actual workout.
Next, Dylan wants to explore his newfound passion for yoga through PE’s health and wellness curricula. “These courses have really allowed me to go beyond my limits academically while also maintaining my health,” Dylan said. “I think without PE, there would have been an imbalance, and I found a balance with the PE program.”