Kinesiology professor joins nationwide American College of Sports Medicine committee

Lisa Leininger

Lisa Leininger (left) and kinesiology students

March 29, 2022

By Mark C. Anderson

CSUMB Kinesiology professor Dr. Lisa Leininger has been appointed to the Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIM-OC) committee by the American College of Sports Medicine. 

In that role, Leininger will collaborate with other experts from across the country to integrate thoughtful physical fitness programs with healthcare at participating universities nationwide. 

Leininger helped found the initiative at CSUMB in 2019. Since then, she has offered a wealth of exercise programs and made physical activity a vital sign—on the level with blood pressure, pulse and respiration—to assess at CSUMB’s Campus Health Center. 

The program also supplies students and faculty with tools to create lasting exercise habits and to connect university health care providers with fitness pros directly.

In fact, news on her appointment was followed by an announcement CSU Monterey Bay has earned gold level recognition from the EIM-OC for its outstanding campus programs. 

In Leininger’s words, the committee will provide a path to “help university campuses implement effective physical activity programs, support and share research projects, and work to continue the development and refinement of resources that healthcare professionals can use in their practices.” 

For those familiar with their doctor recommending more exercise, the work may seem redundant. Far from it, Leininger points out. 

“Although it’s true physicians tell their patients to exercise, most do not have the expertise or time to work closely with their patients to implement a physical activity plan,” she says. “Also, nearly every person knows that physical activity is good for them, but people often need more direction, support and accountability than a physician can provide in our current healthcare system.” 

That has inspired EIM-OC to develop guides and resources for healthcare professionals, and encourages them to refer patients to fitness pros who can personalize workout plans. 

A peer mentoring program will be offered to all students beginning in Fall 2022. 

EIM-OC’s work to motivate faculty, staff and students to work together toward improved health and well-being can appear complicated. Fortunately much of the power of regular movement comes from a simple truth.

“Physical activity is powerful!”  Leininger says. “In fact, when speaking about Exercise is Medicine, I almost always say, ‘If exercise could be put into pill form, it would be the most prescribed drug in the world.’” 

She notes how physical activity helps prevent or delay the development of most of the diseases that kill Americans, and helps to manage many existing diseases or side effects from treatments.

“If more people were just a little more active, we would be a happier, healthier, more productive society,” she says. “Not to mention the millions of dollars that could be saved each year on healthcare!” 

Data demonstrate the biggest decrease in disease rates comes with people who go from “doing nothing, to doing something.” 

“I want people to know all movement counts,” she says. “Exercise programs can certainly get very ‘fancy’ and detailed. However, even incorporating more walking into your daily routine is powerful.. The important thing is to keep working towards your health goals.”

Harald Barkhoff, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, is among many who think Leininger’s committee position is well-deserved, for her and her collaborating colleagues at CSU Monterey Bay. 

“[Her] appointment is not only reflective of the outstanding contributions she has been making nationally to the discipline of kinesiology, but an indicator of the overall quality of CSUMB’s Kinesiology Department, and its impact on our students and community,” Barkhoff says. “Dr. Leininger's work is not only exemplary, but cutting-edge, innovative, and meaningful. [It’s a] well-deserved and inspiring accomplishment.”