The Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative

Director: Dr. James Hicks
Initiative Funding Period: December 2013 – December 2016

The Problem: Inactivity and disuse are widely recognized as significant factors in the development of a wide array of diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. While the idea that “exercise is good for health” seems unquestionable, translating this vague notion into specific, biological mechanisms that could be used to prevent disease and promote health has proven to be difficult.

The mission of the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative is to promote and expand scholarly activities and innovative discoveries in all fields associated with exercise and sport sciences, exercise medicine and rehabilitation at UC Irvine.

The potential role of exercise as therapy, particularly as an adjuvant to standard medical approaches, is gaining steady acceptance among health care professionals and the general public. But a fundamental, mechanistic understanding of how exercise works in specific diseases and conditions is still lacking. Motivating individuals to engage in regular exercise, remains a challenge that requires systematic research and identification of evidence-based strategies for successful behavior change. In addition, how to effectively engage individuals in the benefits associated with activity, many of whom may suffer from physical constraints, for example stroke, traumatic brain injury, or loss of limbs, will require technological innovations. Without knowledge at this level, rational and appropriate uses of exercise as adjuvant therapy will remain imprecise, and the effectiveness of physical activity as a means to benefit human health may be lost.

Future Plans

The Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative is now a school-based center in the School of Biological Sciences with additional funding from donations and grants.