Exercise as Medicine

Obesity rates are skyrocketing in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of the U.S. population is classified as obese. While most people know that maintaining a healthy weight requires exercise and a nutritious diet, more than 50 percent of Americans fail to obtain the daily physical activity prescribed by the American College for Sports Medicine. Less than 25 percent consume the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables.

These unhealthy lifestyle choices are directly linked to higher incidences of many diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiac disease. Drugs are the quick fix for these issues, but the concept of exercise as medicine is piquing the interest of many doctors. Besides the obvious health benefits, even just 30 minutes of regular exercise on a daily basis has been shown to increase productivity at work, reduce stress, and increase energy levels. (Read more at WebMD.)

While weight loss is a primary goal for many beginning an exercise routine, this does not have to be the case. Contrary to popular belief, skinny does not equal healthy. Regular exercise can help increase muscle tone, decrease visceral fat levels (which even “skinny” people have), and will also help prevent arthritis and osteoporosis — both of which are diseases that both overweight and people at healthy body weights face.

So whether your goal is to lose 50 pounds or just to be able to keep up with your kids, getting active is the best choice you can make for your body.

Don’t know where to start? Confused about all those weird looking machines at the gym? Just looking for someone to hold you accountable to your workout? Consider applying to be a client for the Exercise Prescription class.

About the Class

Exercise Prescription is a semester class that connects senior exercise science majors with St. Olaf faculty and staff members. Students gain real-world experience as personal trainers while their clients receive guidance for healthy living through a semester’s worth of free fitness plans and diet advice.

Students apply knowledge gained from biomechanics, anatomy, and exercise physiology courses to design workout plans catered to each client’s goals. Analysis of client food logs allows trainers to provide guidance on basic nutrition as well. Clients work with their student trainer to set short-term and long-range goals. Under student supervision they complete initial, mid-term, and final exercise testing in the Human Performance Lab that allows them to monitor improvements in their flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. All clients participate in a group fitness challenge that serves to motivate them while allowing connection with other clients in the program.

Get Involved

Interested in making a lifestyle change? Consider applying to be a client for the upcoming school year. Clients must be:

  • a faculty or staff member at St. Olaf College
  • eager to commit to working out five days a week for a semester, including twice a week with their student trainer
  • open to trying different types of physical activity
  • willing to complete daily workout and food logs for the semester
  • ready to work hard and expand knowledge of healthy living practices

Any questions about the Exercise Prescription class can be directed to Jenny Holbein.

Other forms

More information

Food logs: