Campus News

UK Recognized for Championing Exercise, Wellness on Campus in COVID-19 Pandemic

Photo by Mark Cornelison | UKphoto
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 22, 2021) — For a second year in a row, the University of Kentucky earned a Gold Campus designation by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Exercise is Medicine® initiative. UK was also named a "COVID Conqueror" for creatively adapting programs to keep students active during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The honors will be officially presented at the ACSM annual meeting, which will be a virtual conference this month.

Rosie Lanphere, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion in the College of Education, leads the initiative at UK and advises the Exercise is Medicine® on campus student organization, which is now more than 60 members strong.

The club sponsored a virtual 5K Run/Walk at the beginning of May to raise funds to help promote exercise awareness on campus. Last semester, the club teamed with students in Lanphere's Introduction to Exercise Testing and Prescription (KHP 450) to promote the benefits of exercise via social media as well as across campus and in the Lexington community.

"Our goal is to promote physical activity among our students. We know that exercise is a major contributor to physical well-being and has many positive benefits for mental health. This is especially important during times of crisis, as we have seen in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic," Lanphere said.

Beyond health promotion on campus, as well as events and educational activities, Exercise is Medicine® 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 last year expanded to the UK HealthCare Women’s Health Clinic. UK's MoveWell fitness program served as the referral source.

During checkups 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.

For more information about health and wellness initiatives on campus, visit for faculty and staff and for students.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.