Michigan Tech debuts new Health Science and Medicine Lecture Series to improve rural health
HOUGHTON — Students, educators, clinicians and community members gathered virtually for the Upper Peninsula Health Science & Medicine Summer Lecture on June 21. The quarterly lecture series aims to build stronger academic-clinical partnerships needed to improve rural health across the U.P. Organized by Michigan Technological University’s Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology and the Health Research Institute, the lecture series is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about improving their health according to Steven Elmer, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.
The summer lecture titled “Exercise is Medicine: Merging Fitness with Healthcare During COVID-19 and Beyond” was delivered by Dr. Robert Sallis, a renowned family and sports medicine physician from the Kaiser Permanente Health Care System in Southern California. Sallis made a strong case that engaging in regular exercise is one of the most powerful tools for No. 1, preventing and treating disease; No. 2, lowering mortality rates; and No. 3, reducing risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Sallis, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, described how he has been prescribing exercise as a form of medicine for over a decade.
Dr. J. Bryan Dixon, a sports medicine physician with the Advanced Center for Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery in Marquette, provided the open remarks for the lecture. “Health disparities in rural areas are striking and people living in such areas suffer a greater burden of disease,” Dixon stated. “Learning more about physician prescribed exercise is an important step to bringing the health benefits of exercise to rural people.”
Both Elmer and Dixon stressed one of the advantages of the virtual lecture series is that leading experts in health science and medicine can be brought in from anywhere in the country through Zoom video conferencing. Indeed, Sallis recently published a landmark research study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that evaluated the links between physical activity level and COVID-19 severity outcomes in 48,000 patients. This work was highlighted in the New York Times, Forbes, CNN, CNBC and other media outlets. Additionally, the Zoom-based lectures allow busy students, educators and clinicians to tune in from home or watch the recorded version afterwards. To date, over 200 individuals from across the country have registered for the spring and summer U.P. Health Science & Medicine Lectures.
The immediate next step is for researchers and clinicians in the U.P. to work together to establish exercise as a vital sign of health where primary care providers assess patient exercise habits and when appropriate provide an exercise prescription and referral. The next lecture in the series will take place in late fall. Finally, recorded versions of the spring and summer lectures can be viewed on the Michigan Tech Health Research Institute YouTube Channel by visiting the following links:
¯ Summer Lecture: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YFzi1Nb0us&t=25s
¯ Spring Lecture www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0kovoHCYqY