June 19, 2017

VSU Earns National Recognition for Supporting Healthy Living

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently earned national gold level recognition from the Exercise is Medicine On Campus program for an ongoing commitment to health and wellness on campus.
“The healthcare challenges and needs of VSU employees and students mirror other citizens across Georgia and the United States,” said Dr. LaGary Carter, associate dean of the School of Health Sciences. “We must all take greater responsibility for our health in relation to behavioral and lifestyle choices that often lead to negative health outcomes and reduced quality of life. The scientific literature has shown that physically fit employees are more productive with less absenteeism from work. In addition, employers spend less money on health insurance for employees that exercise regularly compared to inactive employees. It is also well established that physically active students tend to perform better academically compared to sedentary students.
“VSU can and should do more to take care of VSU by implementing targeted health services and wellness programs that would yield favorable physical, mental, and financial benefits.  We have the resources to be a model for the USG in this regard — if fully utilized.”
Exercise is Medicine is a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine. It focuses on physical activity being integral to the prevention and treatment of diseases.
VSU is an active member of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus program, which calls upon universities and colleges to engage in the promotion of physical activity as a vital sign of health. This includes creating a campus community culture that makes movement a part of everyday life, assesses physical activity at every student health visit, provides the tools necessary to strengthen physical activity habits that can last a lifetime, and connects university health care providers with university health fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription.
“VSU is the flagship institution of South Georgia with renowned undergraduate and graduate programs in healthcare,” Carter said. “Scientific research clearly demonstrates that physical fitness significantly reduces cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity as well as all-cause mortality rates. Frankly, the medical community now classifies sitting as the new smoking and physical fitness as the newest vital sign. 
“It is only fitting that VSU assumes a proactive and tangible leadership role by promoting the proven benefits of physical activity in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare.”
VSU’s participation in the Exercise is Medicine on Campus program is a collaborative effort between the School of Health Sciences and Campus Wellness.
The School of Health Sciences is home to VSU’s Exercise Physiology Program and Athletic Training Program. Its faculty, staff, and students host an annual Exercise is Medicine Symposium and operate the Center for Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation, which houses the Athletic Training Clinic and the Fitness and Wellness Center and offers a variety of preventive and therapeutic services to the university and surrounding community.
Campus Wellness promotes an increased awareness and practice of a healthy lifestyle by offering a variety of educational activities and programs that address the social, intellectual, occupational, spiritual, physical, and emotional wellness of the university’s faculty, staff, and student population. This includes the annual Benefits and Wellness Fair, which gives students, faculty, staff, and retirees the opportunity to meet with dozens of representatives to learn about health, wellness, retirement, and benefit plans; healthy living challenges such as Active For Life and Health Trails; group fitness classes; and more.
In March, VSU celebrated the opening of the Walking Trail System, which features the Fitness Route, the Scenic Route, the Historical Plants Tour, and the Whitehead Camellia Trail.
VSU was one of 24 campuses nationwide to achieve gold level recognition.  
VSU was recognized at the 2017 American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.
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