William Paterson University’s Commitment to Exercise Earns International Accolades

Institution’s ‘Exercise is Medicine on Campus’ program is one of 24 across the globe to earn gold-level recognition

WP employees are led through a set of bent-over rows by student Alysse Marcello

For the second year in a row, William Paterson University has been awarded gold level recognition for its commitment to exercise via the “Exercise is Medicine on Campus” program. The program—part of a global initiative run by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)—calls upon faculty, staff, and students to improve their collective health by making physical activity a part of campus culture. Only 24 institutions across the globe earned gold status from ACSM this year.

Toni LaSala, assistant professor of exercise science, brought the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) program to WP and has put together an EIM team comprised of more than 40 exercise science students. Through collaboration with the University’s human resources department, that group provides one-on-one personal training sessions and weekly group exercise classes to faculty and staff. They also provide personal training sessions to students, and market that program by making presentations to select classes on campus. They also attract “clients” through a partnership with the campus Recreation Center. 

Additionally, through a partnership with the University’s Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, WP students contending with chronic orthopedic issues or conditions such as pre-diabetes or hypertension, as well as those struggling to lose weight, are given “prescriptions” for exercise. Though not a prescription in the literal sense, the students are given written recommendations for the amount, type, and duration of exercise activity, and they are directed to contact LaSala. She pairs them up with exercise science majors who, as a requirement of their Aerobic/Anaerobic Leadership course, must serve as personal trainers to their assigned students.

ACSM bestowed bronze-level accolades on the University’s EIM efforts in 2014—its first year of participation—and silver in 2015. The institution received gold for its efforts in both 2016 and 2017.