An Iowa State University outreach program is boosting kids’ physical activity during the cold winter months.
ExerCYse Time, led by Iowa State’s ExerCYse is Medicine club, provides exercise events in a fun, safe environment for students ages 5 to 12. Since spring 2017, the events have expanded from the Forker Building gym on campus to off-campus, into Ames schools. This year’s events run through early March. Youth do not need to be from an Ames school to participate.
Kate Pinnella, a senior in kinesiology and health, said moving into the schools has helped the program reach more students. Some events have drawn in more than fifty students, while in previous years, the numbers hovered near twenty.
“The school district has been very supportive of the program, and helped us with the planning process at the start,” Pinnella said. “With the help of advertising within the schools and advertising from our club, we have seen an increase in participation since starting in the schools.”
During ExerCYse time, kids play coordinated games with an experienced staff of undergraduate students. Through a partnership with Iowa State Athletics, student-athletes have joined in the fun, leading exercise warm-ups and cool-downs.
“Partnering with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has been very beneficial for our program,” Pinnella said. “It gives kids an exciting factor to look forward to when they come to our event. A lot of kids look up to these athletes and ExerCYse Time allows them to interact with them side-by-side, which is very cool.”
Genevieve Hepworth, a senior in kinesiology and health and president of the ExerCYse is Medicine club, said ExerCYse time is her favorite outreach event.
“It’s been a blast and the kids love it,” she said. “It’s really fun to see the same kids who have been coming for the past four years grow up and see the impact just that an hour of time makes on them.”
While kids and Cyclones alike come for the fun, Pinnella said the benefits to their health are many.
“Getting kids active at a young age is crucial because it starts them on a routine of living an active lifestyle, which in turn will reduce risks of chronic diseases,” Pinnella said. “It also helps with attention span and academic performance in the classroom.”
In addition to ExerCYse Time, ExerCYse is Medicine hosts a variety of additional events on campus and around Ames.
A peer education program called Cyde Kicks pairs incoming freshmen with junior and senior undergraduate students who are trained as health coaches. Iowa State’s Student Wellness team is a partner in the program.
For seniors, BingoCYse mixes bingo with exercises. The interactive activities are designed to increase functional fitness and improve everyday living.
For more information, visit www.exercyse.org.