exercise; medicine; freshmen education; kinesiology
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States are chronic diseases, including heart disease, lung disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease and diabetes. There has been recent attention paid to the role that higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of physical inactivity can play in the prevention and management of chronic disease. As a result of the strength of this evidence, the American College of Sports Medicine, in partnership with the American Medical Association, created the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative. The goal of this global health initiative is to promote the benefits of regular physical activity and exercise for optimal health and wellness.
The EIM program was originally formed to promote the evaluation of physical activity levels at regular office visits by physicians and other health care providers. The hope was that measuring physical activity as a vital sign at office visits would demonstrate its importance in maintaining health and wellness, just as refraining from smoking and consuming only moderate amounts of alcohol does. This initiative is founded on the belief that physical activity is a preventative measure, just as immunizations are, and treatment, like prescriptions, for many common disease conditions.
The EIM mission, to spread the message about the importance of physical activity, has been extended beyond health care providers’ offices into the local community, including University Campuses. As college is a time of self-discovery and a key time for establishing independence, health habits are often created and reinforced in this time frame. Therefore, as of February 2016, the University of Rhode Island is a registered organization within the EIM on Campus (EIM-OC) network. The URI EIM-OC leadership team is working to make physical activity part of campus culture and collaborating with campus organizations to maximize resources for physical activity that can be accessed through Health Services and Campus Recreation on the URI Campus. In addition to participating in University events, including the University Health Fair in April 2016, the URI EIM-OC team designed a lesson for incorporation into URI 101 lessons for URI first year students. This lesson focuses on the benefits of regular physical activity for life long health and wellness outcomes, how physical activity and exercise can be beneficial for the acute management of stress, and how to take advantage of the resources available to all URI students.