This post is dedicated to showcasing the research of master’s students Carmen Scarfone and Isaac Lennox, and PhD student Isaac Wedig. Carmen and Isaac presented their work to colleagues and faculty during February’s KIP Seminar. Read their abstract on what they found from analyzing Exercise is Medicine on Campus programs throughout the United States.
Exercise is Medicine on Campus: A National Analysis and Implications for Rural Health
Carmen J. Scarfone, Isaac M. Lennox, Isaac J. Wedig
Physical inactivity is in itself, is a major public health issue. Four out of every five US adults do not meet the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate level intensity. In rural, non-metro areas, physical activity is even lower than the national average. To counteract these public health problems, the ACSM created Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIM-OC), which is a global health initiative that calls upon colleges and universities to promote and increase physical activities. Exercise is Medicine on Campus fulfills this by promoting the health benefits of physical activity through bronze level status, and the use of education initiatives for silver level campuses. Gold level campuses take it a step further by incorporating exercise as a vital sign in the clinical setting.
Our purpose was to perform a National analysis of the 131 recognized EIM-OC programs in the United States. The programs were stratified by state, as well as metro and non-metro counties defined by the United States department of agriculture. Of 131 U.S. colleges and universities with a recognized EIM-OC program, 59 were gold, 53 were silver, and 19 were bronze level status. Thirty-five states had at least one EIM-OC program. Stratified by state, the most EIM-OC programs were California (12), Pennsylvania (9), and Michigan (8). Twenty-six states had at least one EIM-OC gold level program with California (7) and Michigan (5) having the most. The average population for a city with an EIM-OC program was 274,071 and 237,755 for cities with gold programs. Our analysis found that out of the 131 U.S. colleges and universities with a recognized EIM-OC program, only 11 of the 150 or 8% of all EIM-OC programs are located in non-metro counties. Additionally, only 6 out of 59 or 10% of gold EIM-OC programs are located in non-metro counties.
Two thirds or about 66% of US states have an EIM-OC program – however, 92% are located in metro counties. Efforts to promote physical activity during the pandemic are especially important in rural communities, where over 46 million Americans reside. Compared to urban and suburban residents, those living in rural areas have lower physical activity levels. Even though rural communities typically possess fewer resources, the U.S. Department of Education identifies over 500 colleges and universities that are located in rural areas. These institutions may be able to help provide valuable resources for promoting and facilitating physical activity in their surrounding rural communities such as Michigan Technological university starting the Up and Moving Program.