UCCS students to get exercise prescription

Tom Hutton, (719) 255-3439, (719) 351-6519, thutton@uccs.edu

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A visit to the Student Health Center at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs this winter could result in a prescription unlike any ever received from a health care provider.

Carena Winters, Slippery Rock University, will speak at noon Jan. 24

Instead of a physician’s note for the latest pharmaceutical-based cure, students may be referred to the campus recreation center for a free group fitness pass, gym orientation, and fitness assessment. The effort is part of an Exercise is Medicine with Altitude campaign and a campus-wide effort to improve physical activity. The campaign will feature speakers and other special events.

“This semester we are bringing physical activity to campus,” Rachel Cline, a health sciences graduate student who is organizing the project, said.

The project, which began in a graduate health promotion graduate class taught by Tim Behrens, associate professor, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is modeled on an Exercise is Medicine initiative. Last year, Exercise is Medicine at UCCS was recognized as one of the top six programs in the nation. Through interventions at the Student Health Center, appearances at health fairs, fitness assessments and a six-week physical activity contest for the 900 students who live in UCCS student housing, Cline hopes to make UCCS the top campus in the nation for physical activity and overall health.

Students who visit the campus health center will be screened for physical activity as part of their medical history questionnaire and updated vital signs. Students referred to the Campus Recreation Center will be those who do not meet guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity every week. The prescription for additional activity will be supplemental to the medical issue for which they originally sought advice.

“Someone might go to the Student Health Center for a flu shot,” Cline said. “They’ll still get that service but, along with it, might be a prescription that they get additional exercise. The data is clear. There are many diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease that can either be prevented or dramatically reduced through exercise. While UCCS students are generally healthy, now is the time to put into place activities that can last a lifetime. This program at UCCS can also pave the way for all colleges and universities in Colorado, as well as the nation, to bring physical activity to their campuses.”

The campaign will begin at noon Jan. 24 in the Upper Lodge with a kick-off event featuring Carena Winters, assistant professor, College of Health, Environment and Science, Slippery Rock (Pa.) University. Winters, a member of the National Exercise is Medicine task force, will talk about her experiences at Slippery Rock and Chatham University, Pittsburgh. She is a American College of Sports Medicine-certified clinical exercise specialist.

In addition to Winters, the event will feature a Zumba demonstration and displays by local healthcare related vendors. The event will serve as the beginning of a six-week physical activity minutes challenge for students who live in UCCS campus housing.

For more information about the program, visit http://exerciseismedicine.org/ or contact Cline or Tim Behrens, associate professor, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, (719) 255-4664 or via email at eim.w.altitude@uccs.edu.

UCCS, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The University offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s, and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 9,300 students annually.