Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fit Faculty?

I noticed something the other day while sitting at the all-campus meeting Monday (classes start in a week at my college).

Of the people in the auditorium, the fitter-looking people were faculty (teachers). Almost every faculty member there was fit-looking and fairly slender. The more heavy-set people (as my mother would say) were staff (secreteries, administrators, etc.) They looked like your average mid-westerners: overweight, some even obese.

So, are college faculty more fit than your average person?

I thought about that as I sat there, and I remembered hearing once that the more educated you are, the fitter you are. On average.

College professors are certainly an educated bunch, so that theory may be true. But I wonder what makes educated people more fit? Maybe they've read more about fitness, and good, healthy eating, so they know its benefits? Of course, this applies to anyone who reads and finds out about stuff and thinks of education as an on-going thing, not just those who've been formally schooled.

It may have something to do with money. We aren't THAT highly paid--Bruce and I are a bit over the median income for the U.S.--but we do have more disposable income than someone who's a secretery. We have money for things like TKD and ballet and a Y membership.

I also think it may have something to do with the nature of our work. Sure, we spend a lot of time with our butts in chairs, reading or writing. But we also teach, which can be active, and we have to make our way around a campus to go to classes, the library, meetings, etc., rather than being cooped up in a small office. Being a college professor is not a desk job.

I wonder, too, if it has something to do with the amount of discipline it takes to be a professor (or any kind of job where you're learning for a long time). I mean, think of all that grad school we had to endure! And dissertation-writing. We're used to sticking with a plan. Maybe.

I know profs who are very active: I think of John, a philosophy prof, who does triathalons. And Terry, an English prof, who plays tennis. That guy in computer sci swims at the college pool every day at noon, as do Charlie, the retired English prof and his wife Martha, who taught french. And my friend Kerrie, who teaches journalism, just got a job teaching spinning.

I'm not saying that ONLY professors are fit. Of course not. But I thought it was weird that most of the profs at my college--unlike most of the people I see at the mall or at a restaurant--look like they are active, fit, and in shape!


cim said...

I've also noticed that faculty tend to be fitter and also look younger. I agree with all your theories, but I also think it has to do with the flexibility of an professor's schedule. Unlike those folks who need to commute to an office from 8-5, professors have more control over their hours. I also think the proxmity of all those 20 year olds makes a difference as well. Professors may be inspired by firm bodies to stay fit themselves. When you're around active people, you tend to follow suit. Or maybe keeping fits helps some fend off anxieties over growing older while the students seem to get younger and younger.

Anonymous said...

I agree with our observations TKD Mom. Most of the adults at my TKD school, particularly those who make it to black belt, are professionals, e.g. engineers, accountants, Ph.D.s. I myself am an attorney.
These types of people tend to be goal-oriented, which is complemented by the belt-ranking system of the martial arts in U.S. schools. TKD is also a form of "social aggression"-- meaning you can be both social AND aggressive to deal with the stress of work, etc.
Kicker Chick