Campus News

UK scores gold for championing exercise, wellness on campus 

A photo from the Exercise is Medicine 5K.
A photo from the Exercise is Medicine 5K.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 8, 2023) — Blood pressure, heart rate, weight and temperature are routine measurements to expect during a visit to your health care provider. For students and employees at the University of Kentucky, wellness visits include checking an additional key vital sign — exercise — through a campuswide initiative that is again garnering national recognition. 

For a fourth year in a row, the American College of Sports Medicine named the University of Kentucky a Gold Campus for the Exercise is Medicine® initiative to promote physical activity as a vital sign. 

"Our goal is to promote physical activity on campus. We know that exercise contributes to physical well-being and has many positive benefits for mental health,” said Rosie Lanphere, Ph.D., faculty chair of the bachelor of science in exercise science program in the College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion (KHP) and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Lanphere also serves as advisor to a growing student organization, Exercise is Medicine®-On Campus. 

Exercise is Medicine®-On Campus at UK was first sprouted by KHP alumna Carrie Davidson, Ph.D., who chairs the Exercise is Medicine® program nationwide for the American College of Sports Medicine. 

In addition to encouraging healthy movement on campus, Exercise is Medicine® includes measuring physical activity as a vital sign. Health care providers ask students and employees visiting UK HealthCare facilities about physical activity as a measure of overall wellness. Patients are referred to a fitness professional when needed. 

The focus of Exercise is Medicine® does not end there. 

“What makes this approach unique is that it extends beyond simply monitoring and referring, to offering education and awareness, screenings and other options to provide our campus community with the tools needed to change behaviors,” said Davidson, who is also a mind-body specialist and exercise physiologist and fitness facilities manager with UK Health and Wellness. 

Lanphere teamed up students in her intro to exercise testing and prescription course with the Exercise is Medicine on-campus club to lead physical activity education and opportunities, such as an off-campus 5K last fall. Lanphere credits student leaders Courtney Zinsmeister (Exercise is Medicine On Campus president), Emily Mann (vice president) and alumni Lindsay McSorley and Amber Connor as “instrumental in achieving this recognition.” 

Zinsmeister, a senior kinesiology major, said that earning gold status points to the university’s dedication to students’ health and well-being.

“EIM-OC is such a valuable program on campus because it connects students to different resources on campus to promote and ensure students are meeting physical activity guidelines,” she said. 

Gold recognition is awarded to campuses that implement routine physical activity assessment and promotion in campus health facilities, provide physical activity education and promote physical activity on campus. The honor will be officially presented to UK at the ACSM annual meeting in Denver, which takes place May 30-June 2.  

For more information about health and wellness initiatives on campus click here for faculty and staff and here 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.