Academia and fitness

December 1, 2015 by Joshua
in Education, Fitness

In college and graduate school I held academia in high regard, mainly because I valued education and learning.

Spending time outside academia showed me how much education and learning happens outside academia. Returning to academia showed me that people in it don’t all keep learning that much. And what schools teach isn’t always that useful.

Since I played sports all through college and graduate school, I also conflated academics and fitness. Every university has well-equipped gyms.

Back in school now as an adjunct professor who considers exercise and physical fitness an important part of what I teach, it’s dawning on me that I know almost no fit professors, and I work with many. Would you expect many? Do you expect the great historical figures schools look up to, like Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Mozart, were fit compared to academics today?

I’m not suggesting where the balance should lie, but I always felt I should focus equally on the mind and body. Everyone is free to choose for themselves.

Come to think of it, we force athletes to go to school and get grades over a minimum threshold, but we don’t force high-performing students to pass athletic tests. I wonder why.

I can guess why we impose rules one way but not the other regarding fitness and academic performance but I don’t know. I’m more curious how these choices affect culture.

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2 responses on “Academia and fitness

  1. Great question, Josh. Being physically fit is equally important to being mentally fit. Many Maimonides, a medieval rabbi and physician, wrote in his code of law that one is “to exercise and exert oneself greatly.” The Talmud states, Be courageous as the leopard, light as the eagle, swift as the deer, and strong as the lion, [so that you will be able] to do the will of your Father in Heaven.” Avot 5:20. And Rabbi Solomon Schechter (20th century modern rabbi) said that a rabbi should also know how to play baseball.

    It seems like a no brainer to me.

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