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UW Earns ‘Exercise is Medicine’ Gold-Level Honor

March 26, 2018
group of people posing
Professional and student members of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus group stop for a picture at Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center during World Health Day in April 2017. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming has been named a “Gold-Level Campus” by the national Exercise is Medicine program and will be recognized at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual meeting in Minneapolis May 30.

“Achieving Gold-Level Campus recognition for UW’s Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIM-OC) initiative is simply outstanding,” says Division of Kinesiology and Health Director and Associate Professor Derek Smith, a faculty leader of the effort. “It is a testament to the grassroots work of an amazing group of students, staff and faculty at UW who have come together to make health and well-being on campus a priority. All of the EIM-OC at UW partners should celebrate this recognition. And, it should serve as motivation for our next steps -- sustainability and deeper reach throughout the entire campus community.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the ACSM, which coordinates the program, co-launched Exercise is Medicine in 2007 with a goal of making the scientifically proven benefits of physical activity the standard in the U.S. health care system.

The EIM-OC program calls upon universities to engage in the promotion of physical activity as a vital sign of health, and encourages faculty, staff and students to work together toward improving the health and well-being of the campus community. This is done by making movement a part of the daily campus culture; assessing physical activity at every student health visit; providing students the tools necessary to strengthen healthy physical activity habits that can last a lifetime; and connecting university health care providers with university health fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription.

The bronze, silver and gold recognition program launched in 2014. In 2017, there were 24 gold-level campuses. UW achieved bronze status last year and joined the elite gold level this academic year via a partnership among the Division of Kinesiology and Health, Campus Recreation, Student Health Service, the recognized student organization EIM-OC at UW, the University Counseling Center and the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

people walking
Community members enjoy a “Walk with a Doc” event -- a partnership between UW’s Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative and Ivinson Memorial Hospital -- at the Arena-Auditorium in November. (Ivinson Memorial Hospital Photo)

The referral program with Student Health was a key aspect of UW’s gold-level recognition. Student Health surveys students about their physical activity, and those not meeting the 150 minutes of recommended physical activity per week are offered a referral to Exercise is Medicine volunteers and interns -- made up of kinesiology and health students -- who work with them individually.

“Physical activity can help so many diseases and disorders,” says Lauren Schiller, of Casper, who is completing her master’s degree in kinesiology this semester -- and was a driving force for the program at UW. “As the program states, exercise is a medicine. We know that on college campuses, depression, anxiety and stress are such a big thing. Even 10 minutes of exercise can help alleviate some of those symptoms and help students cope with many of the stresses that college can bring.”

UW’s Exercise is Medicine program hosts events for students and the greater community. Events kicked off with last April’s World Health Day, which opened up Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center for 15 hours of indoor track walking and fitness events and classes.

“We do yoga in the pasture called Poses in the Pasture, we’ve done a 5K and, right now, we’re partnering with Ivinson Memorial Hospital for ‘Walk with a Doc,’” says senior Kelby Borchgrevink, of Gillette, who is president of the student group. Walk with a Doc welcomes older adults in the community to walk indoors at UW’s War Memorial Fieldhouse.

“We’re also partnered with the Downtown Clinic to do another walking program with their patients,” says Borchgrevink, who plans to use what he has learned about the importance of fitness in his future career as a physician assistant.

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