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Syllabus with sit-ups

At “Bob University,” you’d never hear a complaint about exercise. Students would pick yogurt over Cheetos and, as Dr. Robert Topp quips, his personal health and fitness class “would be a required course for everybody.”

Though MU isn’t BU, the associate dean for research in the College of Nursing brought some of his fictional school’s values to Marquette in a new course, HEAL 1931, whichfacilitates healthy behavior through a peer mentorship program. The course paired 19 students with eight upper-division exercise physiology fitness interns. The interns taught the other students how to make healthy changes in their behavior.

“In the spirit of cura personalis that we talk about here at Marquette, we decided that students probably want to be healthy but maybe don’t have the information and experience to know how to do that,” says Dr. Chris Simenz, practicum coordinator for exercise science who supervised the fitness interns.

One big issue is motivation. A four-month date with the Stairmaster is quite a commitment. So the fitness interns made exercise easy by creating personalized workout plans for the HEAL 1931 students. The interns were also committed to the process. For example, senior fitness intern Joe Lemens went to the gym with his HEAL 1931 student twice a week for the entire semester.

The classroom content included presentations by faculty from a range of departments who provided an interdisciplinary approach to changing health behaviors.

“The objective was the stuff you learn in class this morning, you can apply tonight to improve your health,” explains Topp. JB


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