7th annual Exercise is Medicine week features new activities, competitions

2018 Exercise is Medicine on Campus week to kick off Monday, Oct. 8

Students participate in an exercise station in front of the Palmer Museum of Art on the University Park campus during Exercise is Medicine on Campus week 2017.

Credit: Zack Papalia

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s seventh annual Exercise is Medicine on Campus week will feature a variety of initiatives and events Oct. 8-12, including a “Class Challenge,” an expanded Exercise is Medicine Everywhere Alumni Initiative, three Mobile Exercise is Medicine trips to Penn State Hazleton, Harrisburg and Hershey, and other special events.

Exercise is Medicine (EIM) week at Penn State is part of the national Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative that occurs every year, calling on universities and colleges to promote physical activity and its health benefits.

The 2018 EIM week will kick off at noon on Monday, Oct. 8, with the Dean's Walk, a 1-mile walk across the University Park campus. The walk will start at the Biobehavioral Health Building and end at the steps of Old Main. 

Throughout the remainder of the week, activities and information will be offered across campus, including exercise stations, health resources and fitness challenges. 

One exciting component is a fitness challenge against other schools, said Zack Papalia, supervisor of the Center for Fitness and Wellness and coordinator of Exercise is Medicine on Campus. 

“Throughout the week we will be competing against Michigan State, Iowa State, and Iowa in a pushup and lap challenge,” Papalia said. “All week we will be working to accumulate the most number of pushups, while Iowa State and Iowa will do the same during their own Exercise is Medicine events. On Tuesday, we will be competing against Michigan State in a lap challenge around the HUB lawn. Last year we completed over 18,000 pushups and walked over 3,000 laps — we hope to top that this year.”

Melissa Bopp, faculty adviser for Exercise is Medicine on Campus, added, “We continue to strive to be a national leader for Exercise is Medicine on Campus, and we are excited to expand our collaborations with other universities. It is exciting to see how programs from around the country have evolved, and I’m proud that we work with other campuses toward the shared goal of health and fitness.”

Special events during the week include a College of Health and Human Development faculty versus student kickball game at 4 p.m. on Oct. 8 on the HUB lawn, and a free workout with the Crossfit Club at 8 p.m. in the Wagner Building, also on Oct. 8. 

At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 there will be an Outdoor Adventures activity fair on the HUB lawn. In conjunction with Penn State Homecoming, there will be a homecoming carnival and fitness challenges at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10 on the HUB lawn, and on Oct. 11 there will be free yoga at 4:30 p.m. on the HUB lawn, presented by the Kinesiology Club. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own towels or mats, and all experiences and skill levels are welcome. 

Even after EIM week is over, efforts will extend throughout the month of October.

One such event, the “Class Challenge,” calls on students to attend any Campus Recreation exercise class throughout the month of October. Then, students can share a selfie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram of themselves in the class, and tag Penn State Exercise is Medicine (@PennStateEIM) and Penn State Campus Recreation (@PennStateCRec), for a chance to win a prize. Prizes will be drawn at random at the end of October.

The “Exercise is Medicine Everywhere” initiative also will be held throughout the entire month of October. Any alumni who shares a photo or video of themselves being active throughout the month and tags Penn State EIM (@PennStateEIM) along with the hashtag #ExerciseIsMedicinePSU will be entered into drawings for Penn State gift cards, EIM giveaways, and more. 

“Our Exercise is Medicine program continues to grow year after year,” Papalia said. “Expanding upon these newer initiatives like the ‘Class Challenge,’ ‘EIM Everywhere,’ and some new faculty and staff-focused programs really provide us with an opportunity to increase the impact and awareness.” 

“Particularly with ‘EIM Everywhere,’ we want to drive home the message that exercise isn’t just important during college, or only here on campus,” Papalia added. “Wherever you are, and whoever you may be, being active and living well is a goal we all should have.”

Mobile Exercise is Medicine

The “Mobile Exercise is Medicine” initiative, which during EIM 2018 will travel to Penn State's Hazleton, Harrisburg and Hershey campuses, is designed to bring Exercise is Medicine to more communities. It also provides students with hands-on experience in working with diverse populations. The program was initiated in 2014 and is administered through the Department of Kinesiology in collaboration with Exercise is Medicine and the Center for Fitness and Wellness. 

Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology and professor-in-charge of the undergraduate program in kinesiology, noted that in addition to Penn State Berks’ longstanding kinesiology program, four-year degree programs are now available at the Harrisburg and Altoona campuses.

“Mobile Exercise is Medicine” is funded by a grant through the American College of Sports Medicine. Last year during Exercise is Medicine on Campus month, ACSM held the first annual Mascot Challenge, during which Penn State created a video featuring the Nittany Lion participating in EIM. The video, available to watch on the Penn State EIM YouTube channel, received the most votes of any participating campus and won the contest, Papalia said. 

Partners of the 2018 EIM week include University Health Services, Healthy Penn State, the Penn State Crossfit and Powerlifting clubs, CHAARG, Penn State Health and the on-campus Penn State Employee Wellness Center, Campus Dining, and Penn State Outdoor Adventures.

“We are certainly grateful for all the support the College of Health and Human Development has provided, as well as the support of other units on campus such as UHS and Campus Recreation,” said Nancy Williams, professor and head of the Department of Kinesiology. “The advancement of our Exercise is Medicine initiatives is in large part due to the outstanding efforts of faculty, staff and students. ‘We Are’ all in this together.”

Exercise is Medicine was launched in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association to encourage primary care physicians and other health care providers to assess physical activity during office visits and discuss the health and medical benefits of exercise with their patients.

Learn more about Exercise is Medicine on Campus and see the full schedule of events at sites.psu.edu/psueim.