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UW-Eau Claire recognized in national wellness initiative

| Denise Olson

UW-Eau Claire has long been a campus invested in the health and wellness of its students, faculty and staff. One look at the calendar of events or social media for recreation and group exercise will make it clear that Blugolds like to keep moving.

To seal the deal, UW-Eau Claire can now boast its status as a "silver campus" among colleges taking part in the Exercise is Medicine On Campus (EIM-OC) program.

Exercise is Medicine is a global health initiative from the American College of Sports Medicine that encourages primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity and referrals to evidence-based exercise programs when designing treatment plans.

The college-level effort, EIM-OC, encourages faculty, staff and students to work together to create innovative ways to improve the health and well-being of the campus community. The kinesiology and nursing departments have joined forces to accomplish these goals in the following ways:

  • Providing a free exercise consultation among employees and students on campus.
  • Offering free health and fitness assessments at a start point, every four weeks and after six months.
  • Implementing a research project among nursing students to provide a weight-training prescription over a six-month period.
  • Collaborating with the College of Education and Human Sciences to provide Omron pedometers to faculty and staff to promote walking meetings during work hours.

Dr. Saori Braun, associate professor of kinesiology, describes the impact of this last effort.

"Each week I recorded total step counts from CoEHS departments, and at the end of the semester presented the total number of step counts for each. This program actually did promote a more active workplace lifestyle, so I hope we can expand to other colleges in the near future," Braun said.

The major campus event for the EIM-OC participation was the Fit Expo last November, an event spearheaded by senior human performance majors. The expo, created in partnership with University Recreation and Sport Facilities, was an opportunity for all campus members to learn about ways to become and stay more physically active on campus, and free group exercise classes were offered for anyone interested. 

Karina Wait, a senior kinesiology major, has been very pleased to be part of the EIM-OC campaign, as it not only fits with her professional goals, but also with her own active lifestyle. 

"As an individual who is active and a kinesiology major, I love that the EIM-OC program is helping to address the problem of low exercise engagement among faculty and staff on lower campus who are just further away from the workout facilities," Wait said. "The exercise promotion work campuswide is a blessing because is shows that UWEC truly cares about the health of its members — both physically and mentally."  

To finish off the academic year strong, EIM-OC will hold a series of outdoor game days. "Move to Improve: Come De-stress, Not Distress" will take place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 17, 20 and 21 on the campus mall. Kinesiology students will provide bean bags, jump ropes, tug of war, sand volleyball, Frisbees, yoga sessions, among other activities. Students also will share a series of poster displays showing the benefits of exercise on variables such as sleep, performance and stress.

The official "silver campus" recognition will be presented to campus representatives attending the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine-Exercise is Medicine program May 30 in Orlando, Florida, where Braun is looking forward to hearing from other universities being recognized and finding ways to apply new ideas to this campus.