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Employee wellness counts at West Liberty University

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Employees at West Liberty University have been taking part in wellness initiatives meant to curb weight gain over the holidays, promote walking and measure fitness.

The healthy campus initiative began last fall and was coordinated by the WLU Wellness Committee. Members include Dr. David Hanna, Crystal Lorimor, Dr. Cathy Monteroso, Anthony Salatino, Brian Schamp and Tammi Secrist. The committee has been active for about five years.

“There are many small things that employees can do to work fitness into their daily routines to improve health. We work together to advance some of these ideas and help the campus community to think about wellness in the workplace,” said Monteroso, who is the committee chair. Monteroso also is associate professor of health and physical education in the College of Education.

The overall goal of wellness also can improve employee morale. Currently, the university has 268 full- and part-time employees.

“The Wellness Committee works diligently to provide various health initiatives and opportunities that appeal to our employees. They welcome employee feedback as well as new ideas that will get more folks involved,” said Diana Harto, chief human resources officer for the university.

Since Oct. 19, the campus has enjoyed Walking Wednesdays. This program encourages every staff member to take a walk around campus on Wednesdays.

Maps were distributed to assist in mileage mapping, and a new sign was placed on the indoor track explaining distances, which quickly garnered thanks from a campus runner.

Staff can log their miles, steps or minutes, adding up all days of walking throughout each month. Employees then submit their log sheets at the end of the month and one employee’s name is drawn monthly for prizes. In July, at the end of the year, a grand prize drawing will be held for two employee parking passes, worth $50 each.

“The Walking Wednesday program is proving successful. The emails and comments of thanks from folks on campus — even those who may have their own fitness programs and don’t necessarily participate in the walking — is what keeps our committee going,” said committee member Crystal Lorimor, assistant to the provost, who is a walking advocate.

“It’s about building a culture of wellness. We all like different activities and are motivated by different things and our committee recognizes that. We also recognize that health and fitness can be very personal and private to many people. Some are hesitant to sign up, and that’s OK. Folks don’t have to officially register for our programs; we just want them to be mindful of their health. If the weekly email reminder about walking motivates someone to start doing yoga, walking or simply to eat healthy, that’s success.”

Another part of the walking wellness program was a free webinar, Beyond the First Step, offered on Jan. 11. Employees could take part in the hour-long walking program from their desk and learn more about America Walks and its benefits.

The Wellness Committee also brought a Public Employees Insurance Agency-sponsored fitness assessment to campus just in time for New Year resolutions. Employees were invited to take part in a free fitness assessment with an exercise physiologist on Jan. 10.

Health promotion consultant Janelle Humphrey-Rowan coordinated the fitness assessment and is part of the PEIA’s Pathways to Wellness program for state employees. She helps employees determine fitness levels and assists in setting fitness goals.

She tests them on cardiovascular endurance with a three-minute step test (using a 12-inch high step at 24 steps a minute); muscular strength (upper body); muscular endurance using push-ups and/or abdominal crunches; and flexibility testing through a  sit and reach protocol.

“Anything we can do to help West Virginia public employees is a plus, and we are pleased to assist West Liberty University in its wellness program,” Humphrey-Rowan said.

Humphrey-Rowan is also a lifestyle coach for the Wheeling region and offers four annual individualized counseling sessions for those interested. The state is broken into nine regions; she serves Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Marion, Harrison, Doddridge, Tyler, Pleasants and Gilmer counties.

PEIA partnered with Marshall University’s College of Health Professions and its research corporation to create the workplace wellness and healthy lifestyle programming.

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