Wellness Challenge returns to UWRF
February 7, 2008
UWRF Student Health Services will offer students, faculty and staff an extra source of motivation to adopt healthier practices starting Feb. 11 when the third annual Wellness Challenge begins.
During the four week program, participants will compete individually and in teams to see who can accomplish the greatest number of healthy tasks.
"It's not just about exercise," Student Health Services intern Stacy Dekkers said. "It's overall wellness, and community involvement is a part of that."
That's why, in addition to scoring points for practices like getting regular exercise and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, participants can earn bonus points by attending certain events that they will be informed about during the challenge, Dekkers said.
Participants are to submit their total points for the previous week into an online log each Tuesday at noon. Points will be added up weekly with the names of the top five individuals and teams posted on the Student Health Web page so participants can monitor their progress.
Last year Dekkers, who also organized and publicized this year's Wellness Challenge, moved the event from April to February to help get people on campus to keep up with healthy activities, like exercise, during the winter when motivation tends to dwindle and people start to give up on New Year's resolutions.
The team support and competition the Wellness Challenge offers may help students overcome the temptation to slip into unhealthy habits, Dekkers said.
"I'll exercise more if I know I have a friend waiting to go out," Dekkers said.
Team support and competition between himself and other cross country runners helped senior Jason Samens place first among individual competitors in last year's Wellness Challenge.
"It's a lot easier to be in a group and have someone else to work out with than be on your own," Samens said.
This year, participants can form their own teams of at least five individuals rather than be part of their building's team if they prefer, Dekkers said.
Last year's second place winner, Megan Wisbar, a senior TESOL major, encourages other students to sign up for the Wellness Challenge.
"It's really fun, and you get really good prizes," Wisbar said.
Possible prizes include treatments at Lori's Day Spa, exercise passes, pedometers, smoothies and a semester membership to the Strength and Conditioning Center on campus, according to the Student Health Services Web site.
Dekkers' goal for this year's challenge is to get more participants to follow through with it to the end.
"Last year, participation levels dropped through the challenge after a strong start of over 200 participants," Dekkers said.
The majority of students, faculty and staff could benefit from a month of actively pursuing goals for healthier eating, sleeping, exercise and stress-relief habits, Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Student Health Services, said.
One specific health problem that students, faculty and staff have in common is a Body Mass Index exceeding that recommended by health experts. Measuring a person's BMI is one way of determining whether their weight is healthy for their height.
According to the 2006 National College Health Survey, the average BMI for both male and female UWRF students was more than 25; anyone with a BMI of 25 or more is considered to be overweight, Reilly-Myklebust said.
Over 55 percent of respondents to the Faculty and Staff Worksite Wellness Survey conducted in spring 2007 reported a BMI in the overweight or obese category.
Activities in the Wellness Challenge address the BMI issue and many more, Reilly-Myklebust said.
One thing that Wisbar learned by sticking with the challenge was "that walking is a really good habit. I like walking places now," she said.
Students, faculty and staff interested in participating in the Wellness Challenge can register at http://www.uwrf.edu/student-health-service/wellness_registration_form.htm. The registration deadline has been extended to Feb. 10. Anyone with questions about the Wellness Challenge can e-mail Dekkers at firstname.lastname@example.org.