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Prescription for Health: Community Exercise Program

Alma students develop and implement physical activity programs designed to improve the health of adults with chronic health conditions.

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Up to 25 Gratiot County adults will receive fitness assessment and exercise training from Alma College student trainers during the 2019-20 school year as part of the Mid-Michigan District Health Department’s Prescription for Health project.

Prescription for Health is an initiative in which health care providers refer patients to the nutrition education program at the St. Louis Farmers Market and to the community exercise program at Alma College. The MMDHD has received a $49,500 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to increase the number of participants in both programs.

Alex Montoye, assistant professor of clinical exercise physiology, oversees the community exercise program. His students develop and implement physical activity programs designed to improve the health of adults with chronic health conditions.

“Students in this class have positive things to say about the skills and confidence they gain working with program participants.” — Alex Montoye“Students in this class have positive things to say about the skills and confidence they gain working with program participants.” — Alex Montoye“The Community Adult Fitness course provides hands-on, practical experiences that translate into job skills,” says Montoye, who teaches in Alma’s integrative physiology and health science (IPHS) department. “Our students learn how to assess a client’s medical history for identifying risk associated with exercise. They learn how to interpret a client’s level of physical fitness related to exercise tests. And they monitor individualized exercise training programs.

“We do pre- and post-tests that include blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels, plus fitness assessments,” he says. “Our goal is to improve the overall health and fitness of individuals from under-represented populations who do not have access to other programs.”

The students will spend two to three hours per week with their clients, complete pre- and post-testing, keep a weekly log of training, and write exercise prescriptions using American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines that include aerobic, resistance training and flexibility exercises tailored to the goals and health needs of each individual.

“I’m really excited about this program,” says Montoye. “Students in this class have positive things to say about the skills and confidence they gain working with program participants. To partner with the health department will provide further benefit to our students and impact our local community. It’s a very rewarding win-win situation.”

Among those who successfully completed the Community Adult Fitness class is Rachel Brown, a 2018 graduate and IPHS major who now serves as wellness coordinator for PACE Central of Central Michigan. She implements restorative care programs for elderly patients.

“I highly recommend the Community Adult Fitness class; it had a positive impact on my career,” says Brown. “I learned a lot, like noticing when someone is fatigued before they fall, and balancing aerobic and strength exercise. Dr. Montoye talked about how to work with the elderly, and that was helpful for the position I now have.”

Story published on July 12, 2019