Exercise is Medicine is an American College of Sports Medicine initiative that calls to action various health care providers to assess physical activity as a vital sign, and partner with other fitness professionals to reduce physical inactivity to improve overall health. At Illinois State University representatives from Student Health Services (SHS), the Department of Kinesiology & Recreation (KNR), Campus Recreation, and wellness programs have collaborated together to offer Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIMOC) to increase physical activity for all campus community members.

EIMOC began during the 2014-2015 academic year. A team was developed that included representatives from SHS and KNR. Through an application phase, ISU was accepted into the EIMOC program and was awarded silver-level recognition in May 2015. This recognition was based on the existing partnerships among relevant groups and activities that were already in place that currently promoted physical activity on campus. Since, the team has grown to include other departments on campus and the program continues to grow. President Larry Dietz even proclaimed October 2015 as Exercise is Medicine on Campus month, and we continue to promote our activities through various campus events such as Homecoming.

In particular, the collaboration between SHS and KNR has enabled the development of a referral-based system, where at risk students can be “treated” for physical inactivity in private, one-on-one sessions with specialists in the field. This system is similar in process to the collaboration that SHS has with the SMART clinic. This referral based program helped EIMOC at ISU receive gold-level status this year! The ACSM view referrals from health services to fitness professionals as the purest form of exercise is medicine, and as such, recognizes those efforts as highly significant and important in achieving EIM goals. Additionally, ACSM recognizes the educational opportunities this program provides for exercise science students and other ISU students provided by collaboration between health services and kinesiology.

“Since physical inactivity and low cardiorespiratory fitness are worse for one’s health than even smoking or hypertension, it makes sense that we would work together to increase opportunities for our campus members to be physically active, and to maintain that lifestyle for the rest of their lives,” said Professor of Kinesiology Kristen Lagally, who is also an EIMOC team member.

As the referral process continues to be developed, students can be referred to the EIMOC program by their physician if they believe that the patient would benefit from the services. The EIMOC services are provided at KNR’s Exercise Physiology Lab, and are free to students as the goal is to reduce as many barriers as possible to physical activity.

“ISU’s EIMOC team has the potential to do great things due to a dedicated, dynamic, group of individuals from KNR, SHS, Counseling Services, Campus Recreation, and Health Promotion & Wellness, with the same basic mission–to promote life-long health and wellness,” said Lagally.

Visit Exercise is Medicine on Campus for more information about the program and recognition or search ISU Exercise is Medicine on Facebook.