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Exercise in Medicine helps faculty, staff meet fitness goals

exercise is medicine

An exercise science student monitors a participant in the Exercise is Medicine program. Photo: LUC GOSSELIN

By JESSICA WANGELIN

Published June 19, 2014

You’ve just received the monthly e-newsletter from Wellness & Work/Life Balance that’s full of health tips and upcoming wellness programs. That little voice inside your head is urging you to hit the basketball court at Clark Gym on your lunch hour—it's free—or sign up for that hour-long stress-reduction workshop—it's very relaxing.

I listened to that voice last October and signed up to work out three days a week as part of the Exercise is Medicine program, a collaboration between Wellness & Work/Life Balance, the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and Recreation & Intramural Services.

The idea of working out three times a week seems like a large commitment at first, especially if it's not something you usually do. When you realize it's for your health and you’re getting personalized attention—not to mention it's right on campus—it's easy to see this will be the best "meeting" on your schedule.

The program, now in its third year, is free to employees. Participants fill out a simple form, including a doctor's approval, and then meet with Luc Gosselin, associate professor, and a team of students from the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, who will serve as “trainers.” You'll work out with them every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the academic year, either in the morning or afternoon. All workouts are in Diefendorf Annex on the South Campus.

The program starts with walking tests on a treadmill to see how you respond to different speeds and incline levels. You don't have to run unless you want to, and a stationary bike and elliptical, which I use, also are available. Your student trainer will monitor your heart rate via a monitor that you'll wear, and ask you about your perceived exertion level. This is rated according to a scale to see if you feel the exercise is light, somewhat hard or more.

After a few weeks of interval training, you'll progress to a cardio workout and weight training. The bench press, lat pull down, lunges and more are customized to your abilities and you can choose which cardio routine you want to do. Your student trainer will guide you through the whole process and Gosselin regularly checks in, making sure everything is going well. I've also had the chance to meet with nutrition students, who have offered me healthy eating tips.

This program has helped me in both positive and negative ways. And when I say “negative,” I mean the number on the scale! Aside from losing a few pounds, I've accepted working out as a regular part of my schedule. It has become something I want to do, not something I feel like I have to do. I know what heart rate indicates that I'm getting a good workout and how quickly I can increase my free weights.

I also look forward to catching up with the undergraduates, who continuously motivate me to do better. They count my repetitions at 7 a.m. when I'm too tired to remember. They tell me about their classes and the latest on their graduate school applications when I'm holding the plank for 60 seconds. This distraction makes the time go by faster.

Employees from departments across UB take part in the program. And it's been rewarding to see the improvements in my energy levels, as well as see the students learn about wellness.

The goal of the program is to determine what exercise programs work best for individuals and to offer students real-world experience.

Anyone interested in taking part in the Exercise is Medicine program can contact Gosselin at gosselin@buffalo.edu.

While the next session won’t begin until the fall, a 10-week kettlebell class will begin in May. The program, which will cost $50, will consist of structured kettlebell training—a cross between traditional aerobic and resistance training—supervised by students and faculty from the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. For more information, email wellness@buffalo.edu