We all want our students to be serious about academics when they set foot on campus, but college isn’t only about GPAs. Students often struggle to balance academic success and “everything else.” Luckily, St. Edward’s has a growing number of resources under the umbrella of Recreation and Wellness that help both new and returning students find that balance while making friends and connecting with others who share similar interests.

We asked Andy Lemons, director of Recreation and Wellness at St. Edward’s, for his take on the importance of engaging in Recreation and Wellness experiences.

What are the most pressing health and wellness issues for college students?

AL: According to the American College Health Association’s 2017 National College Health Assessment, there are six issues that negatively impact the academic success of college students: stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, poor nutrition and poor physical health. In addition to these challenges, students — especially freshmen — deal with homesickness and not feeling connected on campus.

Recreation and Wellness programs and activities are designed to help students face these challenges by inviting them to take part in experiences like group fitness classes, intramural sports, nature excursions or educational workshops. These programs reduce stress, help students make positive connections on campus, find healthy outlets for fun, develop positive life skills and take charge of their own well-being.

Students in fitness class pose for group photo

Student basketball players high-fiving during game in the UFCU Alumni Gym

Can you share some of the Recreation and Wellness activities?

AL: On any given day, students might join a yoga class, paddleboard on Ladybird Lake or attend a workshop on how to decrease stress during finals. Students can participate just once in an activity, or they may find something they commit to long term, like our vibrant Club Sports program. Participants in Club Sports compete across the country and gain all the benefits of team sports: building a sense of community, making lasting friendships and developing leadership skills as they become officers. Well-being is more than just physical wellness, and our programs and experiences at Recreation and Wellness reflect this.

Rugby team members runs onto the field to begin a match

Students enjoy a view of the Austin greenbelt while hiking in the hill country

How do Recreation and Wellness programs and activities help students in college and after graduation?

AL: It’s all about finding the activities that resonate with you. For some, it’s team sports. For others, it’s about being out in nature. Some people just need to find that one gym buddy for motivation. Recreation and Wellness is a safe environment where students learn how to make healthy choices that suit their individuality.

In addition to the physical and social benefits of Recreation and Wellness activities, we also create student leaders. Students can be trained as Peer Health Educators, and we have more than 80 students who are employed in paraprofessional roles in which they plan, design and execute Recreation and Wellness events on campus. Students will develop the tools they need to succeed on the hilltop and beyond.

Recreation and Wellness is for everyone!

Watch this video to see what four students say about getting involved with Recreation and Wellness at St. Edward’s. From GroupX fitness classes to Club Sports to the Outdoor Adventures program, there’s something for everyone, no matter your fitness or skill level.

How can parents encourage students to get involved in Recreation and Wellness?

AL: Let them know that Recreation and Wellness is for everyone! You don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy Recreation and Wellness activities. Our growing number of experiences guide students to find their community on campus and help manage everyday stresses, while building a foundation for lifelong healthy practices. Recreation and Wellness can help every student feel supported in their well-being journey, and it is our responsibility to find ways for students to develop a positive approach to their wellness. Everyone should feel empowered to “Study Hard. Live Well.”

Explore Recreation and Wellness programs at St. Edward’s with your student to make a bucket list of activities they want to try this year. And follow Recreation and Wellness on Facebook and Twitter to see the fun activities they offer and information on upcoming opportunities.