American College of Sports Medicine recognizes Penn State's Exercise is Medicine

May 08, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Exercise is Medicine at Penn State has been recognized as a Silver level program by the American College of Sports Medicine, the organization that originated the Exercise is Medicine, global initiative. The Department of Kinesiology, through which the program is run, will be honored along with other institutions during Exercise is Medicine on Campus: A Recognition of Outstanding Programs on May 29 at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

Exercise is Medicine on Campus calls upon universities and colleges to establish physical activity promotion as a vital sign for health. It encourages making movement as a part of the daily campus culture and providing students with the tools necessary to engage in lifelong physical activity. It aims to link student health care professionals to fitness professionals to provide referrals for appropriate exercise prescription.

Silver level designation focuses on educational opportunities for campus and community. Campuses with programs at the Silver level work to promote the ideals of Exercise is Medicine toward the ultimate goal of incorporating physical activity as a part of routine health care provider visits.

“Silver recognition is important to us because it indicates that we have been able to make efforts to institutionalize the Exercise is Medicine initiative beyond our Exercise is Medicine Week activities,” said Melissa Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology and current coordinator of Exercise is Medicine at Penn State. “It truly shows the capabilities of the kinesiology department to provide outreaching messages to our greater campus community.”

Bopp said the vision of Exercise is Medicine at Penn State is to communicate the impact of exercise on health and is perhaps the single most important form of outreach the Department of Kinesiology can provide to Penn State. Exercise is Medicine was implemented at Penn State in 2012.

“Since 2012 our faculty, staff and students from the Kinesiology Club and in other kinesiology courses have worked together to improve the impact and scope of our Exercise is Medicine Campaign each year. It’s truly an integrative and collective effort,” said Nancy Williams, professor and head of the Department of Kinesiology.

Penn State’s Exercise is Medicine campaign is headlined by a week-long event, called Exercise is Medicine Week, during the fall semester to encourage physical activity on campus and outline the goals of the program. Exercise is Medicine Week features outdoor exercise stations, contests, fitness challenges and other activities at University Park.

Last fall, a Mobile Exercise is Medicine launched, a project that takes Exercise is Medicine’s events and health assessments to Penn State campuses and communities across the state and region. The goal with the mobile initiative is to travel to various locations and allow kinesiology students the opportunity to be on the front line and giving real advice about the benefits of physical activity to individuals.

“Exercise is Medicine benefits the greater college and university by highlighting the notable benefits of regular exercise in terms of physical and mental health outcomes and how that can relate to an individual being a productive member of our campus community,” Bopp said. “Also, college is a transitional time for students and is an essential period for building healthy lifestyle habits to move ahead into their next life stage.”

Silver level distinction recognizes programs that include activities related to awareness and promotion, and incorporates education for the university’s students, faculty, staff and health care professionals as well as those in the surrounding community. Silver campuses are actively engaged in educating others on the Exercise is Medicine solution for both the treatment and prevention of long-term illness and disease.

“We look at these past successes as a strong foundation for our future strategies to promote exercise across Penn State's campus,” Bopp said.

Silver level campuses must be engaged in at least three of the following: hosting classes that teach students the fundamentals of Exercise is Medicine on Campus; training students to educate campus community members on Exercise is Medicine and the importance of physical activity as a vital sign; conducting campus or community educational seminars on physical activity; and having university health care professionals educate patients on the importance of physical activity as medicine.

Penn State’s Exercise is Medicine leadership team includes: David Proctor, professor of kinesiology and physiology and founding organizer of Exercise is Medicine at Penn State; Stacy Jones, health care professional at University Health Services; Bopp; and Michele Duffey, director of the Kinesiology Physical Activity Program. Student representatives include Alex Petruzzo and Ashley Lutter.

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Last Updated May 19, 2015