Get your PEX on!

Could requiring all UNLV undergraduate students to complete a physical activity course be in sight for future Rebels? Now you may be thinking, “What the heck! Another requirement?! What exactly would this requirement entail?” If implemented, it would require students to take a one-credit physical activity course, also known as a PEX course, and many campus leaders believe that it is time that UNLV starts moving in that direction, literally.



PEX courses can range from 1 to 3 credits but they are not your typical physical education course that we all know and love. The PEX classes offered at UNLV have something for everyone: Rock-Climbing, Golf, Canoeing in Black Canyon, Outdoor Survival Skills, Fundamentals of Coaching, Yoga, Triathlon Training, Pilates, Soccer, Kickboxing, Aikido, and the list goes on and on with more classes being added each semester.



Who’s teaching these classes? As stated by choreographer and dancer with the Nevada Repertory Dance Theater, Marko Westwood, “the instructors for PEX courses are people who have mastered their respective craft and have worked or performed in the industry in which they teach.”  This couldn’t be truer. I was absolutely blown away to know that former and current UNLV coaches, UFC fighters, professional athletes, and dancers are just some among many of the experienced and qualified instructors in the PEX program. I mean, who doesn’t want to take a martial arts class with the trainer who trained the stunt doubles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?



Not only can PEX classes help you get off your rump and get you moving, they can also provide you with the training and skill set to acquire certifications such as Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructor. These certificates always come in handy when looking for a summer job.



Other universities and colleges are showing their support for such requirements. Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology released this statement, “Physical activity patterns during the young adult years are likely to be important influences on habitual physical activity during overall adult life and, consequently, have significant implications for long-term health outcomes. The potential reach and impact of college physical education on the promotion of physical activity to a large segment of the American population has been largely unrecognized. Over the last generation, many colleges and universities have reduced or eliminated their physical education requirements. Nonetheless, physical education can make important contributions in the primary prevention of inactivity-related chronic diseases and to the general education of the college student. Awareness and advocacy are needed to strengthen college physical education programs.”



According to a new study in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport journal, the number of four-year universities that require students to take physical education classes is at an all-time low. In 1920, 97 percent of students in four-year higher education institutions had to take a physical activity course, but fast-forward to 2010; only about 39 percent still hold it as a requirement.


Researcher Brad Cardinal, of Oregon State University (which requires students to take physical activity classes) states, "There is a remarkable disconnect in that we fund research as a nation showing that physical activity is absolutely critical to academic and life success, but we aren't applying that knowledge to our own students."



When asked if other universities are making similar policies and if UNLV should mandate this requirement, Sharon Jalene, visiting lecturer states,


“Very few require some sort of physical activity but I think it would increase the health, well-being, and potentially the GPA of the students.”



Trisha Cain, Fitness and Health Education Coordinator for the Office of Community2Campus of the UNLV Division of Educational Outreach, believes that PEX classes should be incorporated into the general education requirements. From her professional and personal experiences, “Students are better equipped to handle and manage stress more effectively when physical activity is incorporated into their lifestyles…Students need to consider their whole wellness especially during college.  PEX provides that balance for students.”



Both Cain and Jalene believe that implementing a requirement for all undergraduate students to take a PEX course would have a definite positive impact on the students and UNLV community. While many of us don’t like the idea of being told that we NEED to take another class, we owe it to ourselves to be strong and healthy both mentally and physically, to the best of our abilities.



Personally, I know that the semester I took a PEX class (Triathlon Training), I did not get sick as often, I was able to maintain a regular sleep schedule, my grades improved and I felt the sense of accomplishment each day I went to class.



Whether you want to compete in your first triathlon, adopt a healthier lifestyle or just want a fun way to blow of some semester steam, don’t be afraid to check out the PEX class offerings. With 54 classes being offered this spring (2014) semester, there is bound to be something that tickles your fancy and keeps you healthy, active, and motivated throughout the semester.



For questions and comments you may have in regard to PEX classes, please contact Trisha Cain at (702) 895-3766.




Written By: Mariah Campbell


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