ARC introduces new prescription exercise program

Program free for anyone with a Student Wellness referral

Studies show that physical activity can improve mental health.
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The Queen's Prescription Exercise program, also known as PE-Q, is a collaboration between Athletics & Recreation (A&R) and Student Wellness Services (SWS).

Access to the program is by referral-only for students who struggle with anxiety or depression, offering four free hours of personal training as well as sessions with a peer-wellness coach.

Students can be referred to the program by a SWS healthcare provider. After referral, they’re connected to a personal trainer who will teach them the foundational skills involved in proper workout technique and form.

Danica Vangsgaard—PE-Q supervisor and A&R-employed personal trainer—emphasized how PE-Q sets clients up for success after they graduate from the program.

"That's where it differs from general population personal training: we're trying to give students the knowledge they need to build their own programs and the confidence to walk into the gym and know that they can do what they want to do and not be intimidated by other factors,” Vangsgaard said in a press release.

In addition to having a personal trainer, members of the PE-Q program will meet with a Peer Wellness Coach. These 10-to-20-minute meetings focus on helping students set a variety of behavior goals, including physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep.

"The Peer Wellness Coach will help them figure out exactly what they want to do and help to get rid of whatever barriers are in the way of them achieving those goals. It's a step-by-step process, we call it a goal achievement strategy,” Vangsgaard said.

The program is sponsored by the Phys Ed class of 1973 and is entirely donor funded.

They conceptualized the PE-Q program and put it in motion, as they are huge advocates for physical activity and the impact it can have on improving mental health.  

While studies have shown mental health can be improved through physical activity, many students find the gym intimidating and overwhelming. Vangsgaard said this inspired her to become a personal trainer and help spearhead the program.

"A lot of gym culture can be pretty intimidating,” Vangsgaard said.

“I like that this program helps break down some of those stereotypes; [it] breaks down some of those barriers so that people feel like the gym is actually an accessible place.”

PE-Q acknowledges participants may want to avoid training with the general public on the main floors of the gym and therefore offers a separate workout space for clients.

Although PE-Q has access to the entire ARC and the personal training suite, clients can also meet in Studio 2, a spot dedicated to conversations about goal setting.

Interested students can get a referral through a healthcare provider at SWS or email personal.trainer@queensu.ca if they have questions.

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