U of A Exercise is Medicine Initiative Earns Award

Jul 22, 2019 | Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Students Walking on the University of Arkansas campus

The University of Arkansas’ Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative was recently awarded a bronze award at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative launched its recognition program in 2014, honoring campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus. Schools earn gold, silver or bronze status.

Erin Howie Hickey

Erin Howie Hickey, an assistant professor of exercise science at the U of A, and Bryce Daniels, a doctoral student, accepted the award. The U of A was among one of only 139 universities and colleges around the world to be honored.

The Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative calls upon universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health. The initiative encourages faculty, staff and students to work together toward improving the health and well-being of the campus community by:

  • Making movement a part of the daily campus culture
  • Assessing physical activity at every student health visit
  • Providing students with the tools necessary to strengthen healthy physical activity habits that can last a lifetime
  • Connecting university health care providers with university health fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription. 

“We are thrilled to recognize these campuses’ commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and give students the tools to cultivate physical activity habits that will benefit them throughout their lives,” said Robyn Stuhr, vice president of Exercise is Medicine. “These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine: making physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in health care.”

At the U of A, the Exercise Is Medicine program is still in more of the “needs assessment” phase in determining how fit and healthy campus is, Howie Hickey said. She’s looking forward to partnering with diverse organizations and groups across campus to promote physical activity for everyone on campus.

“We will also be continuing our survey and fitness assessments in the fall,” she said.

The program did pilot a Razorwalk Intervention recently which included faculty and staff at the University. They participated in either a 4-week in-person walking group or a virtual FitBit walking group, she said.

aaron abbott

Aaron Abbott

Aaron Abbott, assistant director of graduate recruitment for the College of Education and Health Professions, participated in Razorwalk and appreciated the accountability and camaraderie aspects of the program.

“Not only did I feel like I would let the study down if I didn’t get out and do my daily 30-minute walk, but we also had to share our walk stats — my group wore a FitBit to track — on a group message app. I’m competitive in nature, so I wanted to be sure to have my walk turned in every day, and would constantly check others’ posts to see how I compared.

“It was also nice that everyone would encourage each other in the app.”

The main goal was to walk a full 30 minutes 5 days for 4 weeks. Participants were compensated for the study just by completing 80% of the assignment.

Abbott added an extra goal for himself: to complete 2 miles within each 30-minute walk.

“I didn’t always hit that goal, but I did several times,” he said.

Abbott said participating in Razorwalk reminded him that no matter how busy life is, it’s possible to fit in a 30-minute walk.

“Those 30 minutes not only make me feel better about my health, but I feel better mentally — I have less stress and it’s easier to focus, for example,” he said. “I also learned that the UA campus has a lot of hills and changing up your route can drastically change how far you can walk in 30 minutes.”

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