Among the magnolia trees scattered across Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's campus, joggers and walkers, as well as students headed for class, crisscross the Wake Forest campus to exercise.
They also use the seminary's fitness center and intramural sports to get their blood pumping.
"We saw the need to encourage students to be more physically fit," said Seth Bible, director of student life. "Many of our faculty and staff participate. Some participate in intramural events as well."
Students need to treat their bodies like the temple of God, said Bible, who indicated that the school's fitness initiative is similar to one designed by BlueCross BlueShield. Each year it is divided into three sections and, there are six levels of prizes. The seminary gives out water bottles, personal coolers, blankets, and lawn chairs with the Southeastern logo.
More than 130 students and employees are involved in Southeastern's fitness initiative, begun in 2005. Bible said approximately 750 families live in campus housing and estimates a 10-15 percent participation rate among students close enough to use the facility.
As director of student life, Bible's duties include managing the student center, directing all special events and assisting the dean with disciplinary issues. Bible received a master of divinity degree from Southeastern in 2003 and is currently enrolled in the doctor of philosophy program.
Each year between 250 and 300 students participate in intramurals, including flag football, indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, ultimate Frisbee and racquetball.
The fitness center log averages about 1,200 signatures a month.
The student center contains a 14,000-sq.-foot gymnasium for basketball and indoor soccer as well as an aerobics and free weight room. An activity field is used for intramural sports and for general recreation.
"We encourage our students to work out and use the facilities," Bible said.
He believes it is part of the growth and maturity level of a believer "before they become a pastor and lead a congregation."
In the college, a physical education class is an elective for students. Participation requires the student to exercise three days a week throughout the semester, an hour each session, and write a five-page paper over the notes from the class.
"I can definitely see the evidence of those participating in the program of how it has positively affected their life," Bible said.