We can't build robots to exercise for us

When he was a lad, Gaston, the villain from Beauty and the Beast, ate four dozen eggs to get large; as an adult he upped his consumption to five dozen eggs to support his massive muscles.

Eggs might not be the best route to healthy bodies, and Gaston may not have been the nicest fellow, but he was happy, self-confident, and ripped. Why? Because he exercised on a regular basis.

According to Men’s Fitness, Carnegie Mellon students have a lot of work to do to get anywhere near Gaston-style physiques. The magazine recently ranked Carnegie Mellon as a school on academic probation; we “have been called out on [our] inadequate fitness.” It seems a 17-question questionnaire determined our fitness level compared with schools throughout the nation.

We concede that we may not be the most fit: Physical education is not a requirement, meal blocks can be restricting, and athletes clog the gyms at peak hours.

We refuse, however, to accept that we are among the worst in the nation. Fitness classes offered pass/fail on campus boast a registration of about 520 people per mini. Group exercise classes average about 740 people per registration period. Each year, thousands of individuals register for intramural sports on campus.

The athletic department is making strides in advancing the fitness and health levels on campus by taking students’ interests into consideration when creating new classes. The Men’s Fitness report never spoke to anyone at the athletic department at Carnegie Mellon. All data from the report were based on student responses. Maybe if Men’s Fitness actually asked school officials what they had to offer, its ranking would be less suspect. Instead, it relied on the student survey-takers to provide information such as whether the school offers a nutritionist. (We do.)

This is the kind of survey-conducting that enables results like this: In 2005, the California State University at Long Beach was ranked 20th among fittest schools, but this year it’s on the list of the least fit. Its freshman class is that fat? Doubtful.

It is true that we could all do a little more to stay fit. Even if our fitness facilities were nil, students could still take healthy steps. Eat a good breakfast, for instance. It provides you with energy, and helps stave off snacking. Choose fruit as a side, and vary your meal choices.

As for exercise, here are some hints. Don’t waste someone’s time by taking the elevator down one floor. The elevators in the UC are slow enough as it is without having to stop at every floor. Bored between classes? Take a walk.

Exercise builds endorphins, a natural chemical released in your brain that makes you happy. These same chemicals are released during sex (which, by the way, is also a worthwhile exercise and calorie burner).

Happiness, in turn, triggers motivation and confidence, which often enable academic and social success — and there’s nothing wrong with a little socialization. How else are you going to get to the sex-ercise part of your routine?

Even though Men’s Fitness may have looked at Carnegie Mellon with questionable methods, it might help us stay off the list next year if we take steps to be healthy — the benefits are many. After all, a little happiness, motivation, and confidence never killed anyone.

Well, except for Gaston.