By Angelina Persaud, Assistant News Editor
Manhattan College has earned gold status for its Exercise is Medicine on Campus programs along with 63 other schools in the nation.
EIM-OC is a nationwide campaign that encourages colleges and universities to implement healthy living programs for students and foster the growth of healthy habits.
The criteria for gold status in healthy living is defined as having, “Campus-wide options for exercise…collaboration with a health-related or kinesiology department…and non-clinical departments developing a partnership with campus recreation” according to a guide from The American College of Sports Medicine.
The kinesiology department, the Fitness Center and Health Services have especially played an active role in initiating these healthy living programs and providing students with various opportunities.
Jeff Cherubini, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and faculty advisor for EIM-OC, spoke about the necessity of having healthy living programs on campus to foster wellness and a sense of community.
“I think those that are participating in the activities are benefiting from it tremendously in terms of activity and feeling better in terms of their mental health and physical health,” Cherubini said.
Cherubini also emphasized the growth EIM-OC has had since its initial implementation in the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
“We’ve gotten our number of walking groups up and running and a number of fitness classes. We just added a new aerobic dance class, so we’re adding new classes and adding more activities continuously,” Cherubini said.
In addition to the walking groups, the Fitness Center has proposed various initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles among the student body.
Namely, the JasperFit Mentor program has skyrocketed with student engagement and attracted multiple participants since its initiation.
The program was created with the core goal of engaging students in physical activity while also enhancing the academic careers of students outside the classroom.
Jay Ahmed, director of the Fitness Center, spoke about the importance of implementing the program and how it has contributed to student life.
“It provides support and motivation for students on campus that want to start or continue being physically active and it gives our students in the Kinesiology program an opportunity to gain valuable experience and make a positive impact for other peers on campus,” Ahmed said.
He also spoke about the impact the EIM-OC has had on the Fitness Center and how students are taking advantage of it.
“We have recruited more instructors and nearly doubled the number of group fitness classes and fitness/wellness programs for our campus. The volume at the fitness center has always been very good but I would say there is a greater level of consistency from our fitness center users,” Ahmed said.
However, he also explained the necessity of a fitness mentor program especially for students returning to campus after the pandemic.
“If there was ever a time we all needed that extra support/motivation to keep our physical and mental health intact, this was it. Currently the program has grown significantly with the number of mentors and the number of students on campus that are seeking opportunities related to fitness and wellness,” Ahmed said.
Ryan Tierney, a senior exercise science major with a minor in psychology, has been a student ambassador for EIM-OC since its inception in the fall 2021 semester.
Tierney explained that he and fellow classmate Zach Olivan discovered the idea for EIM-OC from a kinesiology and public health class they took.
“We actually decided to bring this because of a public health class that we were in.We talked to one of the faculty representatives, Dr. Cherubini, and he said there was an on-campus action guide for this initiative. And ever since that initial conversation it’s been rolling smoothly,” Tierney said.
He also highlighted how the program has enhanced his college experience both personally and academically.
“I wasn’t the type to get involved in a lot of things on campus. I kind of just kept to myself. So this kind of made me get out of my comfort zone. And so I became a group walking leader, and I taught a core class because of it, “Tierney said.
Tierney also expressed his feelings upon discovering that MC had achieved gold status. He specifically emphasized the progress that went into the programs over the last few months.
“I honestly didn’t expect to get gold status, but it makes sense because we made so many positive movements through this initiative. And a lot of people seem to enjoy it, especially in the walking groups and the fitness courses that we have,” Tierney said.
Zach Olivan, a senior exercise science major with a minor in psychology, worked alongside Tierney to initiate EIM-OC. He emphasized the influence the program has had on his career at MC thus far.
“EIM-OC has given me the opportunity to connect with students and have real conversations about the benefits and personal struggles surrounding fitness”, Olivan said.
He also highlighted the personal impact participating in EIM-OC has had on him and how it’s helped him engage more with the community.
“People need to be heard, and as a student leader on this campus, it is not only my responsibility to help direct fitness programming, but I also serve as a mentor, a friend and a listener,” Olivan said. “I am willing to have tough conversations, but more importantly, I am willing to listen, and by doing so, I have helped transform the lives of others, therefore transforming my own.”
Olivan also spoke about the necessity of having healthy living programs on campus and the benefits they hold for the community.
“It provides a space for community growth in which all individuals have a part in the well-being of this campus. Not only does it engage students in conversation, but it also gets them active,” Olivan said.
EIM-OC has potential to keep expanding and introduce new ways for the campus community to maintain both its physical and mental health.
“We would like to grow the program by offering more unique group fitness classes, expanding our outdoor fitness classes, and offering more fitness/wellness options. We would like to offer workshops related to fitness/wellness topics such as self-care, mental health, and nutrition,” Ahmed said.
The EIM-OC collaborators all emphasized a common message of encouraging students and faculty to participate in upcoming events and find ways to maintain their health as the semester progresses.
“I would encourage students to just take a look at what’s out there and find something that they enjoy doing. We have these dreams of a physically active community. A couple extra steps a day is all it really takes to make us healthier,” Cherubini said.
Upcoming events for EIM-OC can be found on the events calendar on manhattan.edu and in prior emails sent out by Cherubini.