Penn State Berks 'Exercise Is Medicine' program receives recognition

students in kinesiology class

The Exercise is Medicine program at Penn State Berks has been recognized as a silver-level program by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the organization that originated the Exercise is Medicine global initiative.

Credit: Penn State

READING, Pa. — The "Exercise is Medicine on Campus" program at Penn State Berks has been recognized as a silver-level program by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the organization that originated the Exercise is Medicine global initiative. Recognized institutions will receive their certificate at the ACSM awards program on Wednesday, May 31, at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Exercise is Medicine on Campus calls upon universities and colleges to establish physical activity promotion as a vital sign for health. It encourages making movement a part of the daily campus culture and providing students with the tools necessary to engage in lifelong physical activity.

Silver-level designation focuses on educational opportunities for the campus and community. Silver campuses are actively engaged in educating others on the Exercise is Medicine solution for both the treatment and prevention of long-term illness and disease. Silver-level campuses must be engaged in at least three of the following: hosting classes that teach students the fundamentals of Exercise is Medicine on Campus; training students to educate campus community members on Exercise is Medicine and the importance of physical activity; conducting campus or community educational seminars on physical activity; and having university health care professionals educate patients on the importance of physical activity as medicine.

“With the help of Melissa Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology and coordinator of Exercise is Medicine at Penn State University Park, and her students, Berks received bronze-level recognition in 2016. Additional activities were added throughout the past year which helped to fulfill the silver-level criteria,” explains Helen Hartman, senior lecturer in kinesiology at Penn State Berks. “We are ‘going for the gold’ next year, which will require additional planning and collaboration with groups and organizations on and off campus.” 

“Everyone should be interested in ‘exercise is medicine.’ More and more people are leading sedentary lives, resulting in higher levels of cardiovascular disease, obesity, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, etc. Many of these health issues are modifiable with exercise — a much better ‘fix’ than medication.”

Berks' campaign is headlined by a week-long event, called "Exercise is Medicine Week," during the fall semester to encourage physical activity and outline the goals of the program. The week features various activities on campus including Yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi, martial arts and aerobics. Students and faculty/staff members can earn points for the number of activities completed during the week to remit for a water bottle or a T-shirt. Kinesiology students also work with Health Services during a campus health fair to promote exercise and healthy living.

Penn State Berks offers several courses that teach the fundamentals of Exercise is Medicine. In addition, kinesiology majors conduct one-on-one training programs for campus faculty and staff members. These training sessions include information on physical exercise, as well as information regarding the relationship between exercise and health, exercise adherence and correct form.

Kinesiology students demonstrate various exercise modalities and correct exercise form to training participants and other students enrolled in various kinesiology courses. Kinesiology students also learn how to conduct pre- and post-testing and assessments using the Omron body composition scale, step tests, flexibility tests, and muscular strength and endurance tests.

Through the campus fitness assessment center, WAC4K (Wellness Assessment Center for Kinesiology), kinesiology interns perform assessments for various physical-activity classes and prepare information and demonstrations on correct weight lifting and training techniques.

During Kinesiology Week, guest speakers visit campus to discuss various topics related to kinesiology and exercise. The Kinesiology Department also hosts daily 20-minute WWAK (Walks with a Kinesiologist) throughout the academic year.

Kinesiology students take the lessons they learn into the community. They have participated in the Guts & Glory Digestive & Wellness Expo at Penn State Health St. Joseph, the UGI Health Fair, and the UGI Health Summit, where they administered testing in body composition, posture alignment, and flexibility, and shared general information on exercise. In addition, the college partners with The Reading Health System through the FITT Youth program, in which kinesiology students work with youth identified as at-risk for childhood obesity by participating in fun physical activities.

For more information about the Penn State Berks Exercise is Medicine on Campus program, contact Helen Hartman at [email protected] or 610-396-6201.