Author: Jess Barish

Answering the Call: 6 Pillars of Health and Well-Being Presented by KIP Graduate Students

6 Pillars of Health and Well-Being


Mental health and well-being is a well-documented concern in many settings, including school, work, and at home. Many individuals face depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more. As graduate students in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, we believe that well-being is multifaceted and includes physical, mental, and emotional components. During his time in office, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has raised several concerns related to mental health and well-being. Many of these relate to mental health. However, the U.S. Surgeon General seeks to remedy other concerns related to physical inactivity, health literacy, social media usage, and many other topics. A recent KIP blog post highlighted how the Surgeon General addresses the effects of loneliness and social isolation in individuals affecting overall health. Increased risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mental illnesses are linked to increases in loneliness and social isolation. With guidance from the Surgeon General, these concerns will be addressed in this next series of blog posts. Our team read these advisory statements as a call to action, inspiring us to create a platform where our campus and community members can learn more about how to better their health and well-being. 

Answering “The Call”

This series of blog posts will expand on the overarching theme of creating healthier habits and improving overall well-being, while also trying to promote health literacy by producing clear and concise information for all to view. The series will be broken down into six different posts that explore different aspects of health. These subsections will be defined as physical activity, mental health, social health, diet, sleep, and aging. Each segment will include an introduction to the topic, present relevant information and evidence, and provide simple recommendations that you can apply to your everyday life to improve your health and well-being. Our team is very passionate toward rural areas and rural health. This blog will aim to provide creative ways to improve the quality of life without the need for extensive resources. This blog will serve as a platform to share these ideas to improve our health and well-being in a comprehensive and accessible way. To complement this blog, information will be shared on the Michigan Tech KIP department’s social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube). 

A Bit About Us and How We Want to Help You

From left to right: Alex Rondorf, Blake Hewitt, Kate Meister, Michael Bates

Our team consists of 4 Michigan Tech KIP Graduate Students. Kate Meister and Alex Rondorf are members of the Michigan Tech Women’s Basketball Team. Michael Bates and Blake Hewitt are members of the Tech Football Team. All of us are committed to ensuring a brighter future for a community we’ve been privileged to be a part of for the last several years. We all plan to pursue careers in healthcare/applied sports science and feel passionate about bringing you the latest and greatest information to ensure your overall well-being. We feel it’s important to advocate for a healthy lifestyle and want to present small steps that lead to big changes over time. This blog series will also help us refine our skills in science communication, which we are working on in Dr. Elmer’s KIP 5000 Advanced Exercise Physiology class this semester. Thank you for spending your time with us and we are excited to share our ideas and findings, as we embark on this journey to improve our health and well-being together.

Next Up

For the next post to be presented in this series, our first installment will provide an outlook on physical activity. We’ll talk about why physical activity is a necessary part of our daily lives, how much physical activity we really need, and how getting up and moving may actually save your life…

KIP Student named All-American Scholar by American Hockey Coaches Association

Kash Rasmussen , an Exercise Science student and a forward for the Michigan Tech hockey team, was named an All-American Scholar by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) for the 2022-23 academic year. Kash, who is a sophomore, had a 4.0 GPA in the fall and 3.78 in the spring to qualify for this recognition.

Read the complete press release on Michigan Tech Athletics’ website.

Loneliness And Social Isolation – An Epidemic

Guest blog by: Suma Durga Bommasani, College of Computing graduate student

Humans are social creatures as we are wired to interact and connect with others. However, over time we have become more isolated. Loneliness has become a serious public health concern that affects people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds in the United States. A new advisory report by the United States Surgeon General titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” has shed light on the severity of this problem, showing that loneliness has a higher incidence rate than common medical conditions like smoking, obesity, and diabetes. Even though social isolation and loneliness have a considerable impact on individual health and society, only 20% of people consider it to be a serious problem.

As described in the report, about 1 in 2 adults experience loneliness. Loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of dementia, as well as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mental health conditions. With a higher-than-average proportion of older individuals, this issue is of particular concern for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan region. Additionally, social isolation and loneliness among children and adolescents, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, increases the risk of anxiety and depression.

Experts highlight the critical need to implement strategies to build social interactions and boost health, safety, and well-being, as social ties are a fundamental human need. To address this serious issue, a national strategy with six main pillars has been presented, with the goal of building an integrated approach to improving community and social connectivity.

Individuals can prioritize their personal well-being by staying in touch with a varied network of people, limiting their use of social media, obtaining professional guidance when necessary, and expressing gratitude to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “How Right Now” platform provides some helpful resources for people currently experiencing loneliness. Parents and caregivers can positively affect the lives of children and adolescents by actively engaging with them, highlighting the value of social connections, and monitoring online activity. Getting assistance from mental health and medical professionals can also help with the behavioral alterations connected to loneliness. Educators can build in social connection content to health curricula and help to foster a sense of belonging in the classroom. Local organizations and businesses also play an important role in establishing social connection by introducing programs that increase social contact and bring community members together.

We can all contribute to strengthening social connections. This basic toolkit from the National Institutes of Health has some great examples for improving your social health. Even something as simple as reaching out to a friend, family member, or neighbor to say hi or to invite them for a short walk can help. By coming together to address social disconnection and loneliness, we can work towards building healthier and stronger communities.

Federal Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Our Epidemic of Loneliness Social Isolation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“How Right Now” platform

National Institutes of Health

Social Wellness Toolkit

Campus Resources

Michigan Tech University Center for Student Mental Health

The Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being provides a wide array of resources for students to ensure mental and physical well-being.

National Resources

American Psychological Association (APA)

APA provides resources on workplace well-being, stress management, and mental health

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

AARP provides various resources for older adults, including information on social connection, loneliness, and community engagement

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)

AACAP offers resources on children’s mental health, including loneliness and social isolation

Local Resources

Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP)

UPCAP offers classes and workshops across the U.P. for disease prevention and management, and general wellness

Recent KIP Graduate Published in “Frontiers in Physiology”

Isaac Wedig, PhD

Dr. Isaac Wedig, who earned his PhD in Integrative Physiology in Spring 2023, had his dissertation manuscript published by Frontiers in Physiology. The article is titled “Blood Flow Restriction as a Potential Therapy to Restore Physical Function Following COVID-19 Infection.” It was included as a part of a special Research Topic on “Intervention for Prevention, Management of and Rehabilitation from COVID-19.” Learn more about Isaac’s research by reading the introduction below or the full article on Frontiers in Physiology‘s website.

KIP Students Help the Michigan Physiological Society Celebrate at 10th Annual Meeting

Michigan Tech’s attendees gathered at the 10th Annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting. From left to right: Derrick Simet, Haley Marchese, Abigail Brooks, Isaac Lennox, Greg Miodonski, Kyle Wehmanen, and Dr. Steve Elmer.

A group of Michigan Tech students and faculty attended the 10th Annual Meeting of the Michigan Physiological Society (MPS) on June 26 – 27th at Alma College. The presence of Michigan Tech was prominent as students and faculty from two departments gathered for this notable 10th anniversary of the meeting. Several graduate students from the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP), including Isaac Lennox and Abby Brooks, both master’s students, as well as Greg Miodonski and Kyle Wehmanen, both doctoral students, showcased their physiology-related research and outreach projects through captivating presentations. Joining them were undergraduate students Derrick Simet and Haley Marchese, and Dr. Robert Larson from the Department of Biological Sciences (BioSci), who also shared their research. Even more noteworthy, four of these students – Isaac, Greg, Haley, and Kyle – received recognition and awards for their outstanding presentations.

The first day of the meeting was marked by a keynote presentation by Dr. Pablo Ortiz from Henry Ford Hospital. He discussed the role of emerging research technologies that will lead to exciting discoveries in the field using fantastic examples from his own research involving kidney function. In the evening, there was a special presentation featuring the current and former presidents of the MPS. Among them was Dr. Steve Elmer, the current MPS president and faculty member from the KIP department at Michigan Tech, as well as former KIP faculty members and MPS presidents Dr. John Durocher and Dr. Jason Carter. The first day festivities concluded with an exhilarating physiology trivia quiz competition, where eight teams of students from universities around the state competed against each other, facing challenging physiology questions. The Michigan Tech trivia team (Abby, Derrick, Haley) represented the university well and certainly had a lot of fun!

The second day of the meeting brought another highlight, the captivating ‘Living History’ lecture delivered by Dr. Sue Barman, a respected colleague from Michigan State University and past president of the American Physiological Society. Dr. Barman shared her inspiring journey to success, recounting her experiences from a young girl to a distinguished professor. She also imparted valuable advice to aspiring students and professionals, emphasizing the importance of staying true to oneself and persevering in the face of adversity. There was also a great breakout session encouraging professional development with collaborative presentations on physiology careers in industry, teaching pedagogy with emerging artificial intelligence tools, and science policy in our governments. Finally, the students from Michigan Tech conducted a special edition of their UP & Moving workouts early in the morning, showcasing their ongoing initiative to promote physical activity on campus and within their community.

In summary, the 10th Annual Michigan Physiological Society meeting proved to be a resounding success for both Michigan Tech students and faculty members. The meeting provided a perfect blend of learning, networking, and fun for all attendees, leaving lasting memories. One of the students even had the unforgettable experience of crossing the Mackinaw Bridge for the first time and again a second time on the way home. Congratulations to all the student presenters who are already eagerly looking forward to the 11th annual meeting next year!

Finally, a special thank you to Dr. William Cooke and the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology for supporting the students with their trip, as well as serving as one of the major sponsors for the meeting. — Written by Kyle Wehmanen, PhD Student

The poster presented by Abby Brooks outlining the importance of physical activity promotion in rural areas, such as Houghton, Michigan. One of the strategies implemented by the KIP department to combat physical inactivity is free, live guided workouts available weekly on

KIP Alumni News

Dr. Steve Short graduated from Michigan Tech in 2010 with a dual bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Biological Sciences. After going to earn his doctorate in physical therapy, he joined the NBA’s Denver Nuggets as a physical therapist and assistant strength and conditioning coach. He currently services as the Vice President of Sports Medicine for the franchise. Read more about Dr. Short’s career path and his time as a standout MTU quarterback on the Iron Mountain Daily News’ website.

Abbie Laajala, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Fitness Management, has been promoted to Associate Athletic Director at Lake Superior State University. She has been working at LSSU since 2016. Read the entire announcement on LSSU’s website for more details about how Abbie made her way through the ranks to her new position.

Michigan Tech University Recognized as a Silver Level Exercise is Medicine® On Campus

Michigan Tech is among 156 campuses honored worldwide.

Michigan Tech University is one of only 156 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus. Students and faculty that deliver the “UP and Moving” Program housed in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology helped the university to earn a silver level designation from the Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) program.

From left to right: Dr. Neil Peterson (EIM-OC Committee Co-Chair), Dr. Carrie Davidson (EIM-OC Committee Co-Chair), Isaac Lennox (KIP master’s student), Dr. Isaac Wedig (recent KIP PhD graduate), Kyle Wehmanen (KIP PhD student), Dr. Robert Sallis (former president of ACSM)

“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.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults engage in at least 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each week along with two days of muscle strengthen activities. To facilitate physical activity, the UP and Moving program offers free virtual home-based workouts to keep students, staff, faculty, and community members active. The home-based workouts do not require any specialized equipment and are easily adapted to fit a wide range of ages and ability levels. The live workouts are also recorded and available to watch anytime on the program’s website.

The UP and Moving Program was created in 2020 by a team of graduate students supervised by Steven Elmer, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. Workouts are led by students and include both aerobic exercise (i.e., walking) and muscle strengthening exercise (i.e., weightlifting). Abby Brooks, a master’s student in kinesiology and UP and Moving Coordinator, emphasized, “Engaging in regular physical activity helps improve overall physical health, as well as mental health and well-being.”

EIM-OC calls upon universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health and encourages students, staff, and faculty to work together to improve the health and well-being of the campus community. EIM-OC launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn gold, silver, or bronze status based on their activities. Of the 156 campuses recognized this year, 73 received gold, 60 silver, and 23 bronze. All gold, silver, and bronze campuses will be recognized on June 1 as part of the 2023 Exercise is Medicine World Congress, held in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting.

As a silver level campus, the UP and Moving program has helped engage students, staff, and faculty in educational and wellness initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus and community culture. “An important next step for reaching gold level status is for the UP and Moving program at Michigan Tech to partner with local health care providers to establish physical activity as a health vital sign,” explained Isaac Lennox, a master’s student in kinesiology and UP and Moving coordinator. More information about the UP and Moving program can be found on their website.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) co-launched Exercise is Medicine® in 2007 with the American Medical Association. The ACSM, the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, continues to manage this global health initiative, which seeks to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. Exercise is Medicine® is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health care. To learn more about Exercise is Medicine® and view a complete list of EIM-OC recognized schools, visit their website

KIP Students Stay Active During Summer Break Presenting at National ACSM Annual Meeting

Isaac Lennox presents his research on the impact of “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” at ACSM.
Kyle Wehmanen talks during a group session about his analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting took place May 30-June 2, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

In attendance were two KIP graduate students, Isaac Lennox (MS) and Kyle Wehmanen (PhD), along with recent PhD graduate Isaac Wedig. All three attendees were proud to present their recent research at the ACSM conference.

Isaac Lennox presented a poster from his master’s research focusing on the nationwide impact of the “Exercise is Medicine-On Campus” (EIM-OC) initiative. EIM-OC is a program run by the ACSM that promotes physical activity on college campuses and is a pillar of their continuing community outreach. Isaac L.’s work was very well received and garnered excitement and interest from other EIM-OC colleagues across the country.

Isaac Wedig gave a short, rapid-fire oral presentation on a portion of his doctoral research. He outlined his work with blood flow restriction (BFR) and exercise. Specifically, Isaac W. has built tools designed to help bridge the gap with BFR between research and practical usage in a clinical setting.

Finally, Kyle Wehmanen delivered a 10-minute talk as part of a group session on endurance athletes and events. He spoke about his ongoing analysis of long-distance winter ultra-endurance racing, including the 1000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational which traverses the same course as the legendary dog-sled race.

Overall, the Michigan Tech crew had a fantastic showing at the 2023 ACSM Annual Meeting and are already looking forward to next year! — Written by Kyle Wehmanen, PhD student

American Kinesiology Association Honors KIP Students with Scholar Awards

Gracie VanLangevelde, Isaac Wedig, and Isaac Lennox received scholar awards from the American Kinesiology Association. These students were nominated by the KIP department and selected by AKA based on their academic performance, scholarly interests/accomplishments, leadership, and service to the profession.

Gracie received the 2023 AKA Undergraduate Scholar Award.

Isaac Wedig received the 2023 AKA Doctoral Scholar Award.

Isaac Lennox has the distinction of having received the 2023 AKA National Master’s Scholar Award, the highest award for his category.

Congratulations to our students for achieving these accolades from a fantastic professional organization!

Gracie VanLangevelde, BS-Exercise Science
Isaac Wedig, PhD-Integrative Physiology
Isaac Lennox, MS-Kinesiology