WCU’s Golden Rams community has earned another reason to glow with school pride. The University has been recognized as a 2019 Gold Campus for Exercise is Medicine Day, a worldwide initiative to create a culture of wellness on college campuses by promoting and assessing physical activity.
Only 55 out of 139 qualifying institutions from around the globe were selected for gold status. Gold, silver, and bronze winners were recognized at the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) World Congress, held in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) national conference early this summer.
“West Chester only became officially registered as an EIM campus in 2017 and we reached gold level recognition for the 2018 academic year – pretty impressive!” says Melissa Reed, interim associate dean for the College of Health Sciences and associate professor of kinesiology.
Gold campuses must create referral systems where campus health care providers assess student physical activity and refer students as necessary to a certified fitness professional as part of medical treatment.
At WCU, explains Reed, “Staff from the WCU Student Health Services Center ask students these two questions to assess physical activity: 1) how many days per week do you engage in physical activity? and 2) for how many minutes? With that information, if the student is not getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity, they are referred to me. I meet with them and discuss goals, medical history, etc., and refer them for free on-campus personal training and nutrition counseling. The collaboration among Student Health Services, the Nutrition and Kinesiology departments, and Campus Recreation is integral for our EIM Day On Campus to be a success.”
Including the six departments within the WCU College of Health Sciences, “We have involved more than 300 people on campus: other departments such as biology, student organizations like the pre-med club, women in medicine club, as well as numerous community partners – the Chester County Health Department, YMCA, and others,” Reed reports.
Participants surveyed at the first EIM in 2017 indicated that they “found it beneficial for improving important health behaviors.”
The 2019 Exercise is Medicine Day On Campus was April 24. Next year’s event will also be held in late April.
“We started the day with a walk from Sturzebecker to Sykes with [West Chester Borough] Mayor Dianne Herrin,” says Reed. “She made a proclamation naming May 2019 Exercise is Medicine Month.
“Then there was Zumba, yoga, bootcamp on the academic quad, as well as wheelchair races to promote activity inclusion for all. This was one of the most eye-opening areas for the students. Monica Lepore [WCU kinesiology professor and Certified Adapted Physical Educator] would open the conversation by asking participants, ‘How would you recommend someone to become active’ and inevitably everyone would say ‘Take a walk.’ When she replied, ‘What if the person can’t walk?’ it opened up a thoughtful conversation that really impacted the students.”
“This effort is a nice way for all of our academic programs to collaborate to serve the University in promoting exercise as a form of preventative medicine,” says Scott Heinerichs, dean of the College of Health Sciences and professor of sports medicine.
Reed has earned ACSM’s Level III EIM credential, which signifies that an exercise professional is part of the EIM initiative and can safely and effectively guide patients – including those who require clinical support and monitoring – who need specialized fitness programming to change their health behaviors and improve health outcomes.
She is also ACSM certified as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, an Exercise is Medicine ambassador, and President-Elect Mid-Atlantic Region, ACSM.