SRU’s Exercise is Medicine program earns Gold level recognition

Robert Sallis, Carena Winters and Joy Urda

(From left) Robert Sallis, founder of Exercise is Medicine, presents Carena Winters and Joy Urda, SRU assistant professors of exercise science, with a Gold award at the June 1 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting.

June 15, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Exercise is Medicine at Slippery Rock University has been recognized as a Gold level program by the American College of Sports Medicine, the organization that originated the global initiative. The award was handed out June 1 at the ACSM Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

Of the 50 organizations recognized for their Exercise is Medicine programming, SRU was one of only 19 to earn Gold status. Seventeen others earned Silver level, while 14 took home Bronze.

"This is something to really celebrate," said Carena Winters, SRU assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences. "For me, this is recognition of our goal of helping students, faculty and staff lay the foundation for lifelong habits of movement."

Exercise is Medicine 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.

The ACSM's Gold recognition signifies the highest level of on-campus implementation, with potential for extending into the local community, of one or several components of the Exercise is Medicine.

According to the ACSM website, to be recognized at the Gold level, an institution must have demonstrated it has created collaboration between exercise science professors and the student health center; that it directs students, faculty and staff to health and fitness programming; and that it uses computer-based systems to track the physical activity progress of patients.

SRU's program, launched in 2011, offers many activities, including: "Walk The Rock;" 5K runs and 2K walks; cycle aerobics; and a running club. Additionally, a personal training program matches exercise science majors with students and community residents for weekly activity sessions.

Winters said professors have a duty to help students learn to view movement not as a chore, but as a fun and regular part of their lives. "For undergraduates, who are traditionally between the ages of 18-22, college is a time in their lives when they establish risky or good health habits," said Winters. "It is critical to reach them and set a positive influence for them during this time."

Becoming more active, according to Winters, is a decision that anyone can make right now. "What counts is we are providing opportunities for people to be active and creating a culture that says movement matters," she said.

Kris Benkeser, director of Student Health Services, said University nurses screen students' exercise habits each time they visit. If students don't meet the recommended 30 minutes of daily moderate exercise, nurses refer them to the Exercise is Medicine plan or other fitness programs.

"We are proud that Health Services has contributed to the success of Exercise is Medicine," Benkeser said. "Health Services has taken a leadership role in asking students about their exercise habits. We suggest treatment plans and options to help students make the connection between physical activity and general health."

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu