Open HealthWare: Top 50 Open Courseware Classes on Health and Fitness

by Linda on Jun 24, 2009

Are you open to learning more about health and fitness? If so, many colleges and universities have supplied open courses on those subjects. These courses, which range from anatomy to nutrition and reach every age group from prenatal to the elderly, can help you get on your game.

The following fifty open courseware classes were chosen from top universities around the country. They are categorized and each link within a given category is alphabetized. We use this method to assure readers that we do not favor one resource over another.

The Body

Learn more about how your body works, so you can fine-tune that machine correctly. We also included links about the immune system and diseases for a well-rounded menu:

  1. Anatomy and Physiology: Extensive course in everything from nervous systems to anatomical features. [Western Governors University]
  2. Chronic Infection and Inflammation: What are the Consequences on Your Health? In this course you can explore the new emerging field of pathogen-induced chronic diseases. [MIT]
  3. Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Introduces the basic methods for infectious disease epidemiology and case studies of important disease syndromes and entities. [Johns Hopkins]
  4. Evolution of the Immune System: In this course, evolutionary pathways that have led to the development of innate and adaptive immunity are analyzed. [MIT]
  5. Health: Review a wide body of articles focused on health and human populations at this resource. [YaleGlobal Online]
  6. Health is everywhere: unravelling the mystery of health: This course covers all aspects of health and the human body. [The Open University]
  7. Human Reproductive Biology: This course is designed to give the student a clear understanding of the pathophysiology of reproductive systems. [MIT]
  8. Modern Biology: Get the basics on modern biology and learn about enzymes, lipids and membranes and more. [Open Learning Initiative]
  9. Pathophysiology of Infectious Diseases: The intent of the course is to provide a background into the clinical and pathophysiologic aspects of infectious disease of organ systems. [Tufts]
  10. Principles of Human Disease: This course covers current understanding of, and modern approaches to human disease. [MIT]
  11. The Human Body: Basic introductions to various bodily functions as prerequisites to histology labs. [Harvard Medical School]


You need to feed your body correctly so that it runs smoothly. The following courses teach basics about indigestion, the vitamins and minerals you need to function, and information about nutrition and nutrition and medicine.

  1. Biology of Water and Health: This interdepartmental course explores the multi-faceted ways in which water and human health are related. [Tufts]
  2. Critical Analysis of Popular Diets and Dietary Supplements: The aim of the course is to acquire the knowledge to critically appraise a weight control diet or dietary supplement and choose the best plan for success, both in the short-term and the long run. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Gastroenterology: The most recent knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, and bioengineering of the gastrointestinal tract and the associated pancreatic, liver and biliary tract systems is presented and discussed. [MIT]
  4. Introductory Nutrition: Introductory Nutrition is a survey course covering basic facts and principles of nutrition. [The University of Texas at Austin]
  5. Nutrition: Fundamentals of nutrition, digestion, metabolism and more are covered in several modules. [Western Governors University]
  6. Nutrition and Medicine: This course teaches basic nutrition principles that are relevant to other medical courses such as pathology, growth and development, and pharmacology. [Tufts]
  7. Nutrition: proteins: Starting with a simple analysis of their molecular make up, the unit moves on to look at the importance of proteins and how they are digested and absorbed. [The Open University]
  8. Nutrition: vitamins and minerals: Learn more about the history and content of vitamins and minerals and how they affect your body. [The Open University]
  9. Principles of Human Nutrition: This course provides an integrated overview of the physiological requirements and functions of protein, energy, and the major vitamins and minerals that are determinants of health and diseases in human populations. [Johns Hopkins]


Keep your body in shape with activities like exercise and sports. The following courses go into these topics in depth:

  1. Active, healthy lifestyles: Look at some of the common misconceptions relating to fitness and activity levels together with accepted definitions of these concepts. [The Open University]
  2. Archery: This twelve-session course is designed for the beginning or novice archer and uses recurve indoor target bows and equipment.
  3. Chemistry of Sports: This seminar focuses on swimming, cycling and running. [MIT]
  4. Fencing: This course is intended to provide students with the fundamentals of fencing, including footwork, bladework, bouting and refereeing. [MIT]
  5. Health and Fitness: Learn about nutrition, emotional health and physical health in several separate modules. [Western Governors University]
  6. Improving aerobic fitness: Aerobic fitness is important for sports performance and health, but what sort of exercise should you be doing to develop your aerobic fitness? Find out! [The Open University]
  7. Introduction to Cardiovascular Fitness: Learn more about aerobic exercise and its correlation to cardiovascular fitness. [Wikiversity]
  8. PE.920 PE for ME: Readings, discussions and experiential learning introduce various dimensions of physical intelligence which students then apply to the design of innovative exercise equipment. [MIT]
  9. Physical Intelligence: Learn exercises, activities, readings and discussions designed to excavate your physical experience and that help connect body with mind. [MIT]
  10. Tennis: The goals of this instructional course are to get you started in this wonderful sport and to give you a working knowledge of tennis. [MIT]
  11. Weight Training: This 12 session course is designed for the beginning or novice weight lifter, or for those who have experience lifting but lack proper instruction. [MIT]

The Environment

How much does your environment affect your health? The following courses will teach you more than you might care to know…

  1. Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Public Health: This course addresses the challenges of defining a relationship between exposure to environmental chemicals and human disease. [MIT]
  2. Environmental Health: Examines health issues, scientific understanding of causes, and possible future approaches to control of the major environmental health problems in industrialized and developing countries. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Food Production, Public Health, and the Environment: This course explores the connections among diet, the current food and food animal production systems, the environment and public health, considering factors such as economics, population and equity. [Johns Hopkins]
  4. Health and Environment: Learn more about the interdependence between environment and humankind. [The Open University]
  5. Impact on Human Health: Degraded environmental conditions can impair health. Learn more about heavy metals, doxins, pesticides and how they might affect you. [Rice University Connexions]
  6. Introduction to Mental Health and Disaster Preparedness: This presentation introduces the topics of disaster mental health services, mental health surge capacity, and psychiatric first aid. [Johns Hopkins]
  7. Tropical Environmental Health: Learn about some of the problems arising from poor facilities in many developing countries. [Johns Hopkins]


Young people have specific health problems, and they’re in the learning stages of life. Help them along with some of the courses offered below (for you, not them!):

  1. Adolescent Health and Development: The purpose of the lectures, readings, discussion and panels of guest speakers is to explore a variety of aspects of adolescence and adolescent health. [Johns Hopkins]
  2. Caring: A Family Affair: This unit makes care in the family its focus because the overwhelming majority of care, including health care, is supplied in families, much of it in private. [The Open University]
  3. Human Growth and Development: Directed to doctors, this course can help you to deepen your knowledge about human development from a professional perspective. [Tufts]
  4. Risks for STI/HIV – Opportunities for Prevention: This lecture explores the risks and prevention opportunities presented by the emergence of social networking and internet dating sites. [Johns Hopkins]
  5. The Impact of Physical Activity and Obesity on Academic Achievement Among Elementary Students: According to this report, the health of a child has an effect on his or her ability to learn and to achieve academically. [Rice University Connexions]
  6. Young people’s wellbeing: This course examines issues such as obesity, binge drinking, depression and behavioral problems. [The Open University]

The Elderly

Like youth, the elderly also have specific health problems. The following courses can teach you more about how to handle your own aging and that of loved ones.

  1. Elderly and Activity: Learn more about how activity can affect the health of an older adult. [Wikiversity]
  2. Health Across the Life Span: Frameworks, Contexts, and Measurements: Learn the value of integrating multiple perspectives to understanding human health. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Health Issues for Aging Populations: Presents an overview on aging from different perspectives. [Johns Hopkins]
  4. Health Management for Older Adults: Modules that address health management for the elderly. [Harvard Medical School]
  5. Pain Management Strategies in the Elderly: Three modules that address pain management for older adults. [Harvard Medical School]
  6. The Wisdom Years: Through science and everyday case studies, you can discover why aging is relative to a person’s physical, mental and social capacities. [United Nations University]

Did you enjoy this article?


Previous Post:
Next Post: