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March 7, 2013 Volume 34, No. 22

MU wellness ambassadors celebrate a health-conscious campus culture

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GETTING FIT Nani Fudge, office supervisor of the ID Office, is one of about 300 MU wellness ambassadors. She teaches a lunchtime strengthening course. Photo by Rachel Coward


Forty percent of MU wellness participants need more exercise

Healthy for Life, the University of Missouri System wellness program for faculty and staff, celebrated Mizzou’s wellness culture Feb. 28. Some of the more than 300 campus and hospital wellness ambassadors attended.

At the event, held in the Adams Conference Center in the Veterinary Medicine Building, the Culture of Health Council Initiative was unveiled. 

The initiative focuses on developing a number of health incentives in the workplace, provided supervisor’s approval in advance. Some of the areas involve educating employees about healthy food; a work schedule that encourages employees to exercise; creating better workplace technology and ergonomics so people aren’t sitting so much of the day; and tips on balancing work and exercise.

Within each of these areas, specific programs will be put in place to help create a healthier work environment. “The ultimate goal is to create a healthy and vibrant workplace,” said Laura Schopp, director of Healthy for Life. “Work can become a setting that helps our health instead of compromising it.”

In April, Healthy for Life leaders will present the initiatives to UM President Tim Wolfe in a final form. The initiatives will then be scheduled for implementation.

During the reception, Schopp discussed an existing Healthy for Life program called the Wellness Incentive. The incentive offers three easy steps to earn $100 in a tax-favored account to use for medical expenses in the 2013 Benefit Plan year. 

Employees can (1) create the online personal health assessment by April 30 by starting at; (2) track 240 minutes of physical activity on their online personal health assessment chart; and (3) schedule a free health screening. Upcoming free screenings are 8 a.m.–12 p.m. March 13 in the KC/St. Louis Room in the MU Student Center, and March 14 in the lobby of Jesse Hall Auditorium.

At the three other UM System campuses, participation in the incentive program averaged 28 percent, while MU’s was at 30 percent of 19,000 benefit-eligible employees, Schopp said. 

Survey data of MU faculty and staff wellness members showed the following:

• Forty-six percent are overweight. While high, it’s less than Missouri residents’ average of 60 percent overweight. 

• Forty percent are inactive, meaning they do not meet the recommended standard of 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week. 

• Thirty percent are being treated for high blood pressure. 

Being overweight and inactive places people at risk for developing chronic health problems, such as coronary heart disease, various cancers, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Lindsey Pitts, a senior computing support specialist in Accounting Services, encourages her coworkers to get out of their chairs and move. 

“It makes you more productive in your work if you take a break,” Pitts said in an interview. “Even if it’s just a five-minute break.”

Accounting Services has three sit–stand workstations, which are fitted with technology to raise and lower desk and computer. While working at one of the workstations, Pitts alternates between standing for two hours and sitting for two hours. 

The sit–stand workstations are rotated every three months to various Accounting Services employees. The desks have been in the office for about a year, but not everyone is a fan. “Some people tried it and it’s not for them,” Pitts said. “But for the most part, people who do use one do enjoy it.”

Pitts contributes to the campus health culture by bringing healthy snacks to the office. She is also considering starting a walking group in the spring.

Nani Fudge, an office supervisor in the ID Office, teaches a core conditioning and strengthening class during the lunch hour. She encourages employees to walk rather than sit during breaks. 

“It’s always a good idea to move,” Fudge said in an interview. “We really weren’t made to sit all the time.” 

Several women who have taken Fudge’s class said the endurance gained helped them to shovel their driveways after recent snowstorms. “They didn’t tire as easily and had more energy,” Fudge said.

Fudge teaches “Lunchtime–Me Time Strength Conditioning” 12:15–12:45 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 4G41 Ellis Library. No registration required. Drop-ins OK. Each class costs $1, which is donated to The Food Bank. For more information, email