LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 20, 2020) — Concrete walking paths meander through the University of Kentucky landscape, while bike racks dot the architecture of building fronts. Passing through campus, one might see people zooming along on skateboards, rollerblades or bikes, or jogging past pedestrians. At the impressive new student center, tall windows in one section reveal a large space reserved for exercise.
These details, visible at a glance, are just the beginning. Health initiatives woven throughout life on the UK campus for students and employees led UK to be one of only 77 institutions in the world to be recognized as a gold campus by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Exercise is Medicine® initiative in June.
Through a leadership team made of health care providers, faculty, staff, fitness professionals and students, UK became an Exercise is Medicine® campus this year. Carrie Davidson, an exercise specialist for UK Human Resources and manager of the MoveWell fitness program on campus, served as the committee advisor and will soon co-chair the national ACSM committee. She is a graduate of the UK College of Education doctoral program in health promotion.
Beyond health promotion on campus, as well as events and educational activities, the initiative includes measuring physical activity as a vital sign in health care, with referral to a qualified fitness professional when needed. This means that in addition to checking the usual signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate and weight, patients are asked about physical activity as a measure of overall wellness.
This process has been in place in the student clinic for some time, and recently the committee and UK Health and Wellness implemented a pilot program to include physical activity as a vital sign in the UK HealthCare Women’s Health Clinic. The MoveWell fitness program served as the referral source.
During check ups at the clinic, health care providers ask patients whether they get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. Those who say no are referred to UK Health and Wellness for a series of three appointments.
“The pilot has been very successful,” Davidson said. “There was a statistically significant increase in the number of minutes per week of exercise in the Women’s Health Clinic patients, so this was exactly what we wanted — for people to increase their amount of physical activity.”
Rosie Lanphere, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion in the College of Education, will serve as the advisor to the UK committee beginning this fall.
“We have worked for more than a year on this, and I am thrilled to see it come to fruition,” Lanphere said.
A number of UK employees worked on the initiative, along with several students including UK Campus Fitness Director Casey Gilvin, Kinesiology and Health Promotion (KHP) lecturer Jennifer McMullen, UK HealthCare physician Kimberly Kaiser and KHP alumnus. UK exercise specialist Ryan Mason and nurse Karalee Mlack worked with KHP students Zach Lyons, Anna Zeek, Elizabeth Meston, Amanda Zoeller and biology major Amity Lumpp.
Davidson said student involvement has a number of benefits.
“The students helped to gather all the activities, events, and promotions to be able to register our campus and apply for recognition,” Davidson said. “They help to promote physical activity and become ambassadors of sorts for health in their areas on the student side of things. We are hoping to expand this partnership with students in the future.”
“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.”
For more information about health and wellness initiatives on campus, visit www.uky.edu/hr/wellness for faculty and staff and https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/university-health-service/health-education for students.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.