Study of psychological aspects of the relationship between exercise and mental health in an “area course” fusing research in arts and science

Division of Socio-Cultural Studies
(part of the Department of Life Science and Medical Bioscience, School of Advanced Science and Engineering)
4th year undergraduate
Ryosuke Arashi
Zenba Laboratoryy

Q I hear that your research is closer to the humanities than to science?

I belong to the School of Advanced Science and Engineering’s Department of Life Science and Medical Bioscience, but presently I’m studying psychology at Prof. Yuriko Zenba’s laboratory.
The three faculties of the School of Advanced Science and Engineering provide “area courses” for research into subjects that involve a fusion of the science and the humanities, such as a socio-cultural area course, an international culture area course, an intellectual property and industrial social policy area course, as well as studies in various foreign languages and the cultures of foreign countries, technology and society, history, policy, information science, and sociology.
Of course, since this is the School of Advanced Science and Engineering, previous study of the sciences is the foundation for such studies.
I am studying how to get sedentary people to take up exercise from a psychological perspective. At present, I am studying the literature and seeking guidance from my professor in order to learn what sort of effects are provided by exercise from the standpoint of mental health.

Q What made you decide to take up this line of study?

I personally have experienced the positive effects that exercise can have on one’s mental state.
I played soccer while I was in high school, but when I entered college I became so busy with experiments, reports and studies that I stopped exercising altogether. In consequence, my psychological condition gradually deteriorated, and along with my mental state, my grades also started to fall.
Thinking “this is no good,” I started going to the university gym and took up marathon running. Before long, my mental state improved remarkably. It didn’t help my grades much though!
Around that time, I took Prof. Zenba’s “social psychology” class. It was a very interesting course, and it got me interested in studying the relationship between exercise and mental health.

Waseda is “earthy” in a good way, and everyone is friendly.

Q Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Honestly speaking, my grades are not that great, and I have rather given up on pursuit of science studies. So I might not be the best person to give advice! In choosing a department for which to take my entrance exam, I chose based simply on what looked interesting. That might be one of the reasons my grades are not so great.
Therefore, I would advise prospective students who are serious about their studies to take advantage of school tours and open campus events, and to talk to students of the school before deciding on a department.
Classes are by no means easy. There is so much to learn, and I get the impression that it is a challenge even for people who are intensely interested in their studies. For that reason, I think it is very important to choose carefully when selecting a department.

Q In closing, please tell us what you like about Waseda.

Waseda is an “earthy” place in the good sense of the word, and it is a lot of fun.
There are so many bright people there, but I haven’t met anyone that is snooty, and everyone is very friendly. The department has relatively few students, people get along much like in high school classes, and they tend to help each other out at exam time.
If it piques your interest, I would encourage you to visit and see for yourself.