Many people may not yet be aware that Dr. Brian Carson and I recently registered UL as an Exercise Is Medicine On Campus program. EIM-OC is effectively an international promotion and recognition program that is part of the worldwide Exercise Is Medicine initiative begun by and operated through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). ACSM, a premier physical activity, exercise, and sport science/medicine organization, developed the EIM initiative with the guiding principles of improving health and well-being of all nations through regular physical activity prescription, essentially viewing physical activity as a vital sign for health.
EIM-OC provides a framework for universities and colleges, which can be seen as microcosms that integrate the clinical, academic, and community, to become further engaged in promotion of physical activity as a vital sign for health. EIM-OC also importantly provides an international recognition program to acknowledge engagement levels. Through UL’s current academic programs, research, and service activities, we are already engaging in a large number of activities for which we could/should receive this type of international recognition. Based on the academic curriculum, ongoing physical activity, exercise, and health-related research among patient groups and large community samples, the consistently growing outreach activities aimed at providing opportunities for increased physical activity, and the strong connections of UL faculty members with ACSM and EIM, we are extremely well-positioned to use the EIM-OC framework and our larger goal of becoming the Irish National Center for EIM to very clearly establish UL as the national and regional hub for EIM. For example, MedEX@UL and MedWELL, coordinated by Drs. Catherine Woods and Liam Glynn, respectively, are two of many examples of working academic, research, and service/outreach programs that clearly address EIM and provide documentable experiences and deliverables that will be recognized by EIM-OC.
Frankly, there are no downsides to more actively engaging in this initiative. EIM-OC will facilitate Healthy UL, providing a framework through which many of the ongoing and planned activities that contribute to a healthier UL campus (for faculty, staff, and students) will be recognized to increase UL’s international notoriety. Many of our academics will continue to engage in activities that clearly align with this initiative regardless of whether the activities are recognized; however, it seems to be a ‘no-brainer’ to allow documentation of these activities with this program to increase notoriety for our programs, particularly in sport and exercise science, allied health, and GEMS, while promoting a healthier campus and community.
Thus far, a leadership team has been established per EIM-OC guidelines and UL has been registered as an EIM-OC program. Our application for the EIM-OC Recognition Program will be due February 18th, 2019 and is currently being developed by Dr. Carson and me with key assistance from faculty and staff throughout PESS, Allied Health, GEMS, and UL Sport.
We are looking forward to an exciting 2019 for UL EIM-OC, and hope that you can support this initiative as we work to promote physical activity for health across the region.
Dr Matthew Herring is a Lecturer in Exercise Psychology at the Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. Dr Herrings current research interests focus on the effects of exercise on mental health outcomes, particularly anxiety and depression, among otherwise healthy adults and chronically-ill patients. Contact Matthew via email at Matthew.Herring@ul.ie.