USCA recognized for creating culture of wellness on campus

The University of South Carolina Aiken is one of only 145 universities and colleges worldwide to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® (“EIM”) for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on its campus. 


USCA’s EIM program includes individual health coaching and education for individuals and groups. The program’s focus on encouraging students, faculty, and staff to move their bodies more regularly helped USCA earn a Gold-level designation from the Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) program. Exercise is Medicine is a community-impact initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine.


“We are thrilled to recognize these campuses’ commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and give students the tools to cultivate physical activity habits that will benefit them throughout their lives,” said interim CEO Katie Feltman, CAE. “These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine: making physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in health care.”

Padgett launched EIM at USCA in 2012 in collaboration with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science after learning of its division specifically designed for colleges, Exercise is Medicine on Campus. The program targets students who want to be physically active but may need help knowing where to begin. Referrals also come from the PAVS (Physical Activity Vital Sign) program of the Counseling Center and the Student Health Center in their efforts to connect students to the benefits of being physically active.

"EIM is made for people who want to improve their health but don't know where to start," Padgett says. "We start by connecting them with a peer at the university who then coaches them through a structure to follow. Many people are intimidated to work out in a public setting, and we want to give them the confidence and the tools to overcome that hurdle."

Of the 145 campuses recognized this year, 83 received Gold, 44 received Silver, and 18 received Bronze. All Gold, Silver, and Bronze universities and colleges will be officially recognized on May 29 at the EIM recognition ceremony at ACSM’s Annual Meeting. 

EIM is free for students, faculty, and staff and has the added benefit of practical application for Exercise and Sports Science majors, who serve as coaches for the program. Participants begin by meeting with a student coach to discuss their individual needs, followed by three sessions where they set goals and learn exercise protocols, the importance of weight training, and how to measure vitals such as heart rate. The last session is focused on measuring progress and setting a path forward.

Padgett notes that in program evaluations, every participant has indicated an improvement in confidence level concerning exercising in a fitness facility. She says, "We want people to own their own health and be confident in their ability to do that. If the confidence level isn't there, it is unlikely for a person to implement positive behaviors that impact both physical and mental wellbeing."

In 2022, the ACSM awarded USCA's EIM program a microgrant to review the referral process for students into the EIM program. The goal was to double the number of participants and determine where students learn about the program. It was discovered that Inter-Curricular Enrichment (ICE) events focused on the EIM program generated the most referrals.

Padgett explains, "This does not negate the importance of the referral system with the Student Health Center and Counseling Center, but rather speaks to the importance of creating a culture on campus to emphasize the impact of exercise on not only physical health, but also mental health including anxiety and depression."

Last year, 25 students and faculty participated in EIM. Padgett hopes to increase that number to 25 each semester through an even more robust referral process and expansion to meet the needs of additional students.


EIM launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn Gold, Silver, or Bronze status based on their activities. Gold-level campuses have created a referral system where campus healthcare providers assess student physical activity and refer students as necessary to a certified fitness professional as part of medical treatment. Silver campuses engage students, faculty, and staff in education initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus culture. In contrast, Bronze-level campuses promote and generate awareness of the health benefits of physical activity.  


If you are interested in learning more about Exercise is Medicine at USCA or to set up your EIM sessions, please email A note for students, EIM has also recently been approved for ICE Credit if you complete the entire program.



About Exercise Is Medicine 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) co-launched Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) in 2007 with the American Medical Association. ACSM continues to manage the global health initiative, which seeks to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in preventing and treating many medical conditions, and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health care. Visit www.ExerciseisMedicine.orgfor additional information. 


About the American College of Sports Medicine 

The American College of Sports Medicine is the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science organization. More than 50,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. More details at 


For more information, contact Christen Engel  -