The 25 Fittest Colleges in America

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Final Exam Cramfests, late-night pizza deliveries, game-day tailgates and fraternity keggers can take their toll on the metaphorical student body. And it adds up during a debauched four years—sometimes longer if you’re a grad student, red shirt athlete, or complete slacker. But 25 campuses across the country are doing their part to curb the after effects of the Freshman 15, offering access to top-notch workout facilities, healthy food choices and plenty of opportunities to stay active. After factoring in all aspects of the college lifestyle—like how gyms were on campus, how many bars were nearby and whether dining halls posted calorie counts—we crunched the numbers and came up with a list of our 25 fittest colleges.

The Best of the Rest Here is the breakdown from 25 to 11
25. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) 24. University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) 23. University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) 22. University of Illinois (Urbana, IL) 21. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) 20. University of Delaware (Newark, DE) 19. University of Georgia (Athens, GA) 18. University of Maryland (College Park, MD) 17. Iowa State University (Ames, IA) 16. University of Massachusetts (Amherst) 15. Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK) 14. Penn State (University Park, PA) 13. University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) 12. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) 11. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
Top Tailgating Schools
Ole Miss
A nine-acre area called The Grove in the center of campus serves as the backdrop for this legendary tailgate. Some attendees dress in their Sunday best for the festivities, an unexpected twist on your average tailgate. UCLA
Tailgating at the Rose Bowl for Bruins home games is like New Year’s every Saturday. So overwhelming, not even a golf course can contain it. LSU
Night games in Death Valley are crazy, but the all- day tailgate beforehand is just as raucous. Lands on the list based on food alone—jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and alligator stew. Washington
Huskies dock their boats on Lake Washington, snacking on salmon and crab. Extra point for the mountain backdrop. Penn State
Gather 100,000 fans, football, and food, throw in copious amounts of booze, and you’ve got one very Happy Valley.

No. 10 University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has installed a winning mentality on his squad, but the football team isn’t the only group of winners on campus. True, with one of the most successful athletic programs in the country, it’s easy for students to fall into a cycle of tailgating. But through the CampusDish program, students can get nutritional info and cooking tips online. Several Twitter feeds —like @bamadining— dole out even more healthy eating advice. The campus bike program offers students the chance to pedal to their next class and a state of-the-art fitness center features a climbing wall and indoor and outdoor pools. The staff offers body comp and movement tests, as well as personal training. There are 119 cardio machines and 100 strength-training machines, so you probably won’t have to wait long for an elliptical. No. 9 University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE The world knows the University of Nebraska as the home of the Huskers, one of the most storied programs in the history of college football. But life on the university’s Lincoln campus doesn’t just revolve around game day. The faculty and coaches preach a philosophy of total health and wellness, and at Nebraska, that means balance. Besides standard access to the university’s gyms and athletic fields, students can take free yoga, spin and Pilates classes or visit the squash and volleyball courts and the rifle range. Steeply discounted massage therapy and personal-training sessions are also available. Athletes keep strong with a world-renowned strength and conditioning facility and an orthopedic therapy center that would rival any state-of-the-art clinic out in the real world. Nebraska’s sports nutrition program takes its student-athletes a step further with one-on-one meal design provided by in-house nutritionists. N0. 8 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN It’s called the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a reason, and students have easy access to skiing, lakes, beaches, hiking and mountain biking. Students at UM can register for outdoor recreation trips, which range from kayaking to cross country skiing to a five-day hike of Paria Canyon in Arizona. If you’re looking to lift weights, shoot some hoops, or take a class, UM is home to two on-campus gyms, the Minnesota University Recreation Center as well as the St. Paul Gymnasium. Students can also get their fitness level assessed using an on-campus Bod-Pod. Those looking for a more challenging workout can sign up for the Tri-U-Mah! on-campus triathlon, which actually takes place indoors. The race consists of a 30-minute swim, stationary bike ride and treadmill run. The event has both team and individual races, with the winner being determined by total distance traveled. No. 7 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC If you’re into intramural and club sports, all the usual suspects are present here, as well as underwater hockey, waterskiing, wakeboarding and a club marathon team for running nuts. You could even take a stab at UNC intramurals’ very own student football combine. There are numerous holiday-themed runs, eight different walking and cycling routes around campus, more than 5,000 square feet of indoor climbing and a Challenge Course located just a few miles from campus. And if you happen to frequent any of the many outdoor dormitory basketball courts, be on the lookout for the Tar Heels’ top basketball stars. Last spring, freshman phenom Harrison Barnes & Co. challenged students to pickup games (and will likely do so again). No. 6 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY Never mind that Syracuse receives the most annual snowfall of all the schools we surveyed. Students don’t just hibernate, they also practice aikido and judo, play cricket on the Quad walkways and shoot hoops inside Archbold Gymnasium (sometimes against SU football and basketball athletes, who frequently stop by). If you want to shred the ice, the new Tennity Ice Skating Pavilion is free and bobsledding and skeleton at Lake Placid is a day trip away. No. 5 University of Texas, Austin, TX Everything’s big in Texas—except for maybe the students themselves, thanks to the Fitness Institute of Texas (FIT), which provides individualized assessments. Eight fitness and rec facilities offer Longhorns everything from dodgeball to indoor soccer. The school’s Fitness/Wellness program has a host of group activities, such as cycling classes and small-group personal training. The campus’s Stark Center houses an extensive research library on weightlifting and conditioning and a museum named after Men’s Fitness co-founder Joe Weider and his wife, Betty.

How We Ranked Them After narrowing the pool to a list of colleges with the largest enrollments, we averaged three categories:
The FITNESS Index accounted for the number of intramural athletic clubs, gyms, basketball courts and lap pools; the number of NCAA titles the school had won; and whether a fitness requirement was needed to graduate. The NUTRITION Index determined whether a nutritionist was available for students, how many fast-food joints littered the campus, whether calories were posted online and the number of bars within a mile radius. The CAMPUS Index gauged how many health and fitness majors were offered, the mean on-campus temperature and the annual percentage of sunshine (more sun meant more incentive to go outside). We weighted fitness and nutrition factors higher, then crunched the numbers to come up with the list.

No. 4 Indiana University, Bloomington, IN This is Hoosiers hoops country, so it’s no surprise that the campus has 15 basketball courts. Every April, IU holds the Little 500—the country’s largest collegiate bike race—which raises money for working students’ scholarships. Club sports range from table tennis to Taekwondo. There are two full size gyms, one with an Olympic size swimming pool, the other with 12 racquetball courts. An online NetNutrition plan helps students plan their meals—it even factors in allergy restrictions. IU also holds the annual Midwest Fit Fest, a conference at which students and staff can learn all sorts of fitness techniques. And portly professors can slim down with the summer-long Step Into Fitness program. No. 3 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI The largest of MSU’s four gyms is Intramural Center West—a 175,600-square-foot behemoth of a facility that features seven basketball courts, four volleyball courts and three squash courts. MSU offers classes like kickboxing, yoga and cycling; more than 20 competitive club sports; and access to sailing and a self defense center. Lake Lansing is a quick 15-minute drive away, with additional hiking trails, kayaking and rowing classes. MSU mascot Sparty the Spartan doesn’t get any points for name originality, but he does have two tickets to the gun show. No. 2 University of California- Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA UCLA certainly breeds fit competitors—the Bruins have won the most NCAA team championships of any school (107). The FitWell program hooks up students and faculty members with the classes, education and facilities they need to attain their fitness goals. The on-campus gym is open 24 hours from Mon day to Thursday and boasts certified personal trainers, four exercise studios and three basketball courts. The Student Nutrition & Body Image awareness campaign helps promote the proper way to lose, gain and maintain weight heathily. Off campus, students have access to more than a dozen challenging hikes, all within six miles, as well as the Marine Aquatic Center, where students can kayak, row, surf, or windsurf. Legendary Muscle Beach is located just 20 minutes away in nearby Venice, and during the winter, students can travel a few hours north to ski some of Cali’s snow capped peaks. No. 1 Ohio State University, Columbus, OH Why so fit? For starters, OSU scored a near-perfect 99.6 out of 101 for the Fitness Index (for more details on our methodology, see “How We Ranked ’Em”). Troubled football team aside, there’s nothing “improper” about the fit benefits offered here: four rec centers, a tennis center and even a skate park, all named after Buckeyes alum Jesse Owens. To boot, its nationally recognized Recreation and Physical Activity Center offers up all equipment imaginable, including video-game virtual fitness options at “The Lounge.” More outdoorsy? Hit up the ice-climbing wall, take up wakeboarding, or rent a canoe and paddle or snowshoes for the day. And if you’re a part of the school’s K1 kickboxing team and/or love lifting, immerse yourself in the Columbus MMA and strongman hub. The world-renowned Arnold Sports Festival in March offers up amateur bodybuilding contests, along with participation in CrossFit, fencing, skateboarding, martial arts, arm wrestling and Ping-Pong. That’s right, Ping-Pong.

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