Grand Canyon University offers unique fitness test for college students

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- People have probably heard the term "Freshman 15", as many students gain weight when they go to college.

It isn't a myth. In fact, results of a Grand Canyon University study found it should actually be called "Freshman 20", and a Health Science professor says some students end up keeping that weight on after college, which can lead to hypertension and other cardiovascular issues when they get older.

Through the HIP (Health Intelligence and Programming) Clinic, some GCU students are finding out just how fit they are.

"We just found that when college students live on campus, they have increased independence," said Austin Paredes, who is majoring in Exercise Science. "They're not with their parents, not eating the healthiest meals, and have a decreased fitness level."

For the results to be accurate, they have to be in a tight swimsuit, wear a swim cap, and enter into a bod pod. There is a machine that accurately determines how much body fat they have. Then, they test their blood pressure, as well as a test for artery stiffness through their thigh.

Having a stiff artery means a higher chance for developing hypertension as people get older.

"New guidelines came out on who is hypertensive," said Professor Zachary Zeigler with the GCU College of Science, Engineering and Technology. "Almost half of America is."

So far, the tests have only been calculated for mostly freshman girls, and the results show on average, they've gained about two pounds per month, meaning almost 20 pounds by the end of the school year.

"We found that when college students gain the weight, they tend to gain it around the waist, which is worse for their health than their legs," said Zeigler.

Based on those results, the HIP Clinic then gives a recommendation on what these students should do to prevent having cardiovascular issues in the future.

"We recommend about 30 minutes a day, and the type, should they do aerobic training or resistance training," said Zeigler.

Prevention is key, and with February being Heart Health Month, it serves as a reminder that developing a healthy habit at a younger age is the best way to prevent health issues from arising, as people age.