The college setting offers public health educators and exercise scientists a favorable environment to implement wide-spread change in levels of physical activities. With over two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. now categorized as obese or overweight (CDC, 2015), it has become necessary to increase physical activity levels on college campuses. Exercise is Medicine® on Campus (EIM®-OC) is a national initiative to increase physical activity on college campuses by creating an environment to change the subjective norm of diminished exercise movement and fitness among adults. The purpose of the present study was to use the EIM®-OC platform to assess college students’ beliefs and practices of physical activity by implementing this program in a rural setting.
Implementation of EIM®-OC was conducted over a one-week period. More than 1,000 participants joined in the events led by a multi-disciplinary team. Data collected included self-reported daily physical activities, campus commuting, and level of exercise intensity. Descriptive statistics and chi-square reported frequencies and statistical differences.
Overall, the campus turnout for EIM®-OC events was 7.6 percent higher than national norms. Physical inactivity was statistically different between racial groups (P=0.04). Males reported engagement in physical activity primarily for enjoyment and social interactions. Active transport was lower in the rural community than in urban counterparts.
Findings from this study described the successful engagement of a midsized rural campus population in an EIM®-OC campaign. The study revealed self-reported physical activity patterns of students comparable to national averages; however there was a disproportionate number of African Americans who did not participate in any vigorous physical activity.
“Using the Exercise is Medicine® on Campus platform to assess college students’ practice of physical activity in a rural setting,” was published in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association.
Dr. Bridget Melton, associate professor of health and kinesiology at Georgia Southern University was the lead author. Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University’s Ms. Jazmin A. Williamson, MPH student, Dr. Helen Bland, professor, and Dr. Jiann Zhang, associate professor were co-authors.