The Kids Are Alright—Right? Physical Activity and Mental Health in College Students

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The status of physical activity in higher education has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. In this paper, we aim to (a) provide a brief history of physical activity on campus; (b) describe how that activity has changed from a requirement to an elective; (c) illustrate how mental health (particularly stress, anxiety, and depression) has changed in college students over the past few decades; and (d) describe the relationships between physical activity and mental health, particularly in college students. The paper culminates with recommendations for how colleges and universities might facilitate better student mental health through physical activity. There is room to improve the physical activity and mental health of college students, realigning higher education with the promotion of mens sana in corpore sano.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.

Petruzzello (petruzze@illinois.edu) is corresponding author.
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