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Wellness programs offer students healthy choices

February 12, 2010

Numerous health and wellness events and activities are being offered on campus provided by Student Health and Counseling Services. Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga are just a few of the returning programs, accompanied by new offerings such as art remmadee and massage therapy.

The first Tuesday of every month, Student Health and Counseling Services holds a relaxation open house in the afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Student Health Services Resource Room . The open house offers a free opportunity for students, faculty and staff to relax and be pampered while learning about all the other health, wellness, and relaxation programs offered by health services. The monthly event includes chair massages, aromatherapy, tea, chocolates and neck wraps provided by Lori’s Massage and Day Spa.

“This is so relaxing,” junior Amanda Kaufman said, “It’s important to have programs like this that help take you away from the stress of school.”

Reduced rate, oncampus massages are available for students, faculty and staff at Student Health Services, also provided by Lori’s Massage and Day Spa. They offer 15, 30 and 60 minute massages at $10, $25 and $45 respectively.

“It’s great to be able to offer massages on campus,” Owner Lori Moran said. “I know when I was a student, I definitely would’ve appreciated something like this.”

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students have the opportunity to participate in several different types of relaxation, exercise and stress relieving activities. Yoga and Zumba offered Monday and Wednesday, respectively, are among some of the popular programs to return. Tai Chi, now offered in both beginner and advanced, and meditation skills for total mind/body health provide deep relaxation. Art Remmadee, a new program, offers students a way to relieve stress through art.

Tai Chi is now being offered in both beginner and advanced classes this semester because it can be frustrating for people who are experienced in Tai Chi to be placed in a class with those who are beginning, according to Tai Chi instructor and Professor Tim Holleran. Tai Chi reduces stress, creates relaxation and has multiple other benefits, such as improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength, improving sleep quality, increasing energy, endurance and agility, and improvement of brain function and memory among other things, according to Holleran.

Advanced Tai Chi is currently offered Mondays from noon to 1p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest and Beginner Tai Chi is offered Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Falcon’s Nest starting February 23.

“With repeated practice, bringing mind and body together, Tai Chi can help reduce stress. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm,” Holleran said. “Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as you focus on the present, and the effects may last well after you stop your Tai Chi session.”

Yoga continues to draw students on Monday afternoons. Stacy Dekkers has been teaching free yoga classes since mid spring semester last year. Yoga helps increase flexibility and improves core strength and balance, according to Dekkers. Many people have been able to try yoga for the first time because it’s offered for free, according to Dekkers. Yoga is offered Mondays from 4-5p.m. at the University Center Ballroom.

“Students, faculty and staff all need to take a break once and a while,” Dekkers said.” Our lives can get crazy and sometimes we need to slow down. Yoga helps fill this need.”

Another popular activity offered by Student Health and Counseling Services is Zumba, a Latin dance fitness class. The class combines Latin dance from several different cultures and cardio intervals, according to Zumba instructor and UWRF dance teacher Mari Kline. Zumba offers all the benefits from cardio zone training such as increased agility and coordination and is more fun than a lot of other cardiovascular exercises, according to Kline.

Zumba is offered Wednesdays from 4-5p.m. at the Falcon’s Nest.

“Zumba helps let go of stress from school,” Kline said. “It’s a fun workout and it’s free.”

Meditation Skills for Total Mind/ Body Health is being offered this semester, very similar to the relaxation practice offered last semester, taught by Personal Counselor Mark Huttemier. The purpose of the meditation class is to learn basic techniques to relax, unwind, and focus, according to Huttemier.

Meditation Skills for Total Mind/ Body Health is offered Tuesdays from 4:30-5:30p.m. in the University Center Chippewa Room.

Art Remmadee is the newest program to be added to the health and wellness events. The program offers students a place to make art, relax and reduce stress, according to Personal Counselor Jennifer Herink, one of the facilitators of the program. The group was established by Herink and Journey House Campus Minister Yvonne Wilken, who created it to offer students a place where they can bring art projects and work on them together.

The program offers four special sessions this semester that focus on one specific project, such as stamp making, papermaking, bookmaking, painting and collage. In addition to art projects, there will also be instruction for knitting and crochet. All materials will be provided for the special sessions. Art Remmadee is every Tuesday from 2-3p.m. in the South Hall Alumni Room.

“Art Remmadee offers a great opportunity for students who find it therapeutic to express themselves visually,” Personal Counselor Jennifer Elesser said.

In addition to all these events and programs is the 5th Annual Wellness Challenge. The Challenge encourages healthier living through physical activity, nutrition, safety and overall wellness. This four week program is designed with incentives to develop a commitment to healthy lifestyle choices, according to the Student Health Services Web site. The Challenge allows individuals and teams to compete by filling out point logs. Participants must complete certain exercise or wellness activities to earn points. There are prizes each week and a grand prize at the end of the competition to those who have received the most points.

“Participants are able to keep track of what they are eating and how much they are working out, and I think when people are forced to really look at what they are eating, they are very surprised,” Student Health Services Intern Lindsay Johnson said, “We hope that people will take a step back and reconsider their lifestyle and try to improve it.”

These programs are important to help students prevent themselves from having serious mental issues or getting to overwhelmed or stressed out, Elesser said. Student Health and Counseling Services wants to promote the importance of prevention and that it is just as important, if not more than, treatment.

“We aren’t just here to help students with mental illnesses,” Elesser said, “It’s important to find ways for students to have many different opportunities to manage stress and relax in order to prevent problems in the future.”