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January 21, 2011

New and unique community fitness initiative set to launch at ULM Jan. 27

It is perhaps not too surprising that getting fit consistently ranks at the top of many New Year's resolution lists. Nor should it come as a surprise that the resolution to get in shape crumbles by the time the first Valentine-shaped candy boxes make an appearance in the supermarket.

Exercise is Medicine on Campus is an initiative started last year by the American College of Sports Medicine to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles on college campuses so that the resolution to become fit actually results in a permanent change, not just another dashed wish.

"The University of Louisiana at Monroe is the first campus in Louisiana to be involved in this program," explained Kinesiology Instructor and Director of the Human Performance Lab Brian Coyne, "As part of this program, the Kinesiology Department is partnering with the ULM Activity Center to involve the community and college campus in great fitness events throughout the semester."

Coyne said there is at least one event planned each month this semester as part of the initiative, which launches Thursday, Jan. 27, at the ULM Activity Center. The entire community is invited to participate. The event will run from 12 to 4 p.m. and cover all the great alternative forms of physical activity that turn fitness from something potentially boring into something fun. A Giant Boxing Ring, an Obstacle Course and a Velcro Wall are among the available activities the whole family will enjoy.

The Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative is made possible by the generosity of Sanson Family Medicine, along with ULM's Kinesiology Department and Human Performance Lab, The Wellness Center and Anytime Fitness. All of these initiative sponsors will be at ULM's Activity Center on Jan. 27 with booths to provide patrons information for getting and staying in shape, Coyne said.

Kinesiology Graduate Student Talya Williams, coordinator of the ULM Exercise is Medicine on Campus, said it is important for her area to establish open communication within the community.

"We want everyone to know that exercise has been falsely portrayed as a somewhat dull, "hum-drum" system that includes straight-line running, treadmills, weights, and/or a gym," she said. "Exercise is physical bodily activity with a goal of developing or maintaining physical fitness. Movement can be exercise. If we can get that message to our community, then our campaign is a success."

Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than almost anything else a person can do to maintain weight loss and improve overall health, according to Coyne. Studies show that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis symptoms.

"In short, exercise keeps you healthy while also helping you look and feel a lot better," he said. Stay tuned to the ULM news web site for other upcoming events this semester that are part of the fitness initiative.

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