Students to go mobile with Exercise is Medicine

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State’s Kinesiology Club is excited to see where its Exercise is Medicine (EiM) program will go. Literally.

Making headway

EiM is hitting the road this fall with its new Mobile Outreach & Regional Expansion initiative, a project that will take its events and health assessments to campuses and community groups across the state.

“We’re trying to reach out to the Penn State community as well as the Commonwealth campuses,” said Michele Duffey, director of the Kinesiology Physical Activity Program.

EiM on campus is an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine that calls on universities and colleges to promote the health benefits of physical activity and exercise on their campuses. The first campus-wide EiM event at Penn State's University Park campus was held in November 2012.

The goal with Mobile EiM, which has been made possible by a grant from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, the Thomas M. Nardozzo Community Service Endowment and the Department of Kinesiology’s Faculty Endowment Fund, is to travel to various sites in and out of the community, and grant kinesiology students the opportunity to be on the “front line” and give real advice, Duffey said.

“At the end of the day we want to have broader impact … on people engaged in their health,” she said.

Kinesiology students and one or two advisers will travel with a trailer that will transport exercise and assessment equipment. Each visit will involve some combination of health and fitness assessments and promotional events. The group may also set up peer mentoring at some locations for students interested in kinesiology.

“Hopefully this will end up being a really nice project to give students a really great experience and promote (wellness) … and physical activity and try to change lifestyles,” Duffey said.

The frequency of Mobile EiM visits will depend on the location and travel expenses involved, Duffey said, but the idea is to make one non-local trip per semester. Additional events will include local trips to community and on-campus groups.

“(We’ll) tweak it and see where the interest is,” she said.

So far four groups, including Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Berks, have shown interest in a visit.

“It’s exciting. It’s big,” Duffey said. “It’s evolving on a daily basis.”

Items the group will travel with include a BIA, or Bodystat 1500 bioelectrical impedance analysis unit, which analyzes body composition; a first aid kit; laptop computers for recording and linking health history, and personal accounts; Monark bicycles to be used for the assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness; counters used in assessments to increase accuracy; and stop watches.

Assessment tests given, depending on the site, may include blood lipid and glucose testing, said Chris Bopp, instructor and director of the Center for Fitness and Wellness (CFW). All of these tests and assessments are offered at the CFW on University Park’s campus.

“Everything we do at the CFW will be available in the (mobile) EiM lab,” Bopp said.

The center, part of the department of kinesiology, provides instructional support for select activity-based courses offered by the department of kinesiology. Students enrolled in certain kinesiology courses obtain fitness testing as part of the requirements for the course.

The lipid, or cholesterol, testing was piloted last year with about 900 tests completed, Bopp said. During that pilot, 25 to 35 percent of college-aged males who came to the CFW to be assessed had a lipid abnormality, Bopp said.

“It was much higher than I anticipated,” he said.

Mobile EiM will help provide new information to students and help encourage physical activity beyond the 1,200 to 1,400 students who are tested in the CFW each semester on University Park’s campus, Bopp said.

“(It’s) an opportunity to expand our services outside of this one room,” he said.

EiM at home

Since EiM’s inception on Penn State’s University Park campus, the kinesiology club has been working to create a broader reach, Duffey said, and has recently starting hosting one-week events in the fall.

EiM events include outdoor exercise stations at high visibility sites, exercise competitions, prize drawings, fitness testing, a “skip the elevator-take the stairs” signage campaign and an educational booth at the HUB-Robeson Center.

More than 130 kinesiology club members and 10 faculty members organized and implemented the 2012 event. More than 2,500 passers-by participated in unplanned exercise, with 1,200 of those participants completing surveys, Duffey said. During the 2013 EiM week, 3,000 pedometers were handed out throughout the week, and the number of participants reached 999 on that Thursday alone.

Last year EiM week was held the week following Homecoming, Duffey said, which proved to be a popular and successful time to host it.

“That was the goal: to impact a lot of people a lot of different ways,” she said. “Our goal has been to send an important message to the campus community.”

This year’s weeklong event, which begins Sept. 29, will add focus on bridging the gap between fitness professionals and health care providers to emphasize the importance of physical activity and health in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases, Duffey said.

“Ultimately, we are hoping to impact the entire community and to encourage all allied health professionals to include discussions of physical activity as part of any person’s health care,” she said. “This discussion is part of our current goals for the year with a by invitation discussion featuring Robert Sallis, M.D., the creater of EiM.”

For more information about the Penn State Kinesiology Club visit pennstatekines.wix.com/club. For more information about Exercise is Medicine at Penn State visit pennstateeim.weebly.com. For more information about Penn State’s Department of Kinesiology, visit www.hhd.psu.edu/kines/.

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Last Updated August 11, 2014