Greatist.com released its 25 Healthiest Colleges in the United States list this month after a rigorous process that looked beyond the size of universities' recreation centers, instead focusing more closely at their food, health services, health-programming and overall happiness of their students.
To narrow the list of nearly 100 colleges, Greatist.com started with nominations from readers, tracked mentions of schools with exceptional services, consulted student surveys from The Princeton Review and scored each school individually on a 100-point scale that weighed food, fitness, health services and programming equally while taking into account accessibility (price, hours, etc.) and innovativeness. Greatist.com also paid special attention to the quality of those services.
The five universities ranked at the top for offering the best environment for leading a fit, healthy and happy lifestyle were UCLA, Stanford University, University of North Dakota, Colby College (Maine) and the University of Georgia.
In addition to its indoor recreation center, UCLA offers an outdoor center with a team-building ropes course, pools, kayaking and picnic areas. Its health center, which offers acupuncture, nutrition programming and massage therapy, was ranked number one by The Princeton Review.
Stanford's recreation center is open until 1 a.m., and its dining options are available until 2 a.m. Its health center also is ranked in the top 25 by The Princeton Review. Stanford has several student athletic groups and a three-step BeWell program with resources for assessment, planning, and executing health and fitness changes.
The University of North Dakota's $20 million gym, which opened in 2006, offers free fitness and health assessments, plus a seven-dimensions approach to wellness, which includes emotional, environmental and spiritual health.
Colby College offers Tabata training and CrossFit classes at its fitness center, which also features a pool, indoor track and ice rink. The health center's hours include weekends, and an emergency response team of volunteer EMTs is on call. Colby also harvests food from its campus garden.
The University of Georgia offers nutrition consultations and smart eating courses with a dietitian and is one of the only schools that Greatist.com came across to offer 24-hour dining during the week. Its recreation center offers a "Biggest Loser"-type program as well as several other wellness programs. Dental, dermatology and vision care is included in the health center, as well as cooking classes and wellness workshops.
Other schools that made the list include Bowdoin College, the University of Texas (Austin), St. Olaf College, the United States Military Academy at West Point, James Madison University, Yale University, the University of Pittsburgh, Lewis & Clark College and Rice University. Click here for a complete list and descriptions for why they were considered the healthiest colleges in the United States.