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Health campaign targets faculty, staff and students

By Laura Fenton

Pouncer
Pouncer

Pouncer takes the stairs. You should too.

That’s just one of the dozens of healthful choices students, faculty and staff can make as the University of Memphis begins a healthy new century.

The program, Memphis Healthy U, cohesively organizes 12 departments and colleges to promote one goal: “Move more. Eat healthier. Be tobacco free.”

“It’s a fresh new start for a fresh 100 years,” said Marian Levy, director of the MPH Program in the School of Public Health. “We want this to be a part of the campus culture. We want people to lead healthier lives, because when you lead healthier lives, you can be a more effective dreamer, thinker and doer.”

The campus-wide campaign started with a 2010 Student Government Association resolution for the campus to be tobacco-free.

Once President Shirley Raines was presented the initiative, she asked four campus leaders to head the campaign, but chose to open the goals to include healthy eating, increased exercise and the choice to be tobacco free.

Vice President of Student Affairs Rosie Phillips Bingham, Provost Ralph Faudree, Chief Human Resources Officer Maria Alam and Vice President of Business and Finance David Zettergren combined forces for a U of M healthy lifestyle campaign.

“The president wanted it,” Bingham said. “That carries a lot of weight when she asks us to do something.”

Now the campaign has morphed into the largest coordinated effort to promote healthier lifestyles on the U of M campus to date.

Facets include a “Desk to 5K” exercise plan that will culminate with a U of M 5K walk/run on April 13. Included, too, are wellness seminars to be taught by students from the Loewenberg School of Nursing every Thursday on topics ranging from cooking demonstrations to healthy lifestyles. The campus community will find “Memphis Healthy U” labels at cash registers and signs marking healthier food options, and a “Health Minute” radio program partnership between the School of Nursing and the campus radio station WUMR.

The event kicked off with a special program on Jan. 24, which featured a Zumba class and healthy foods for munching.

Pepper Walker, U of M Zumba group fitness instructor, turned up the music and encouraged the class to jump, turn and shake to the cardio dance moves.

“Anyone can do Zumba,” Walker said.

She’s led Zumba for people sitting in a chair, and even for one man who could not hear, but instead felt the music and moved to that rhythm.

“It’s a really fun way to get people motivated to move,” she said.

The U of M is promoting a healthier campus through the Memphis Healthy U campaign. Pouncer and several U of M employees signed a pledge to be tobacco free and to exercise more.
The U of M is promoting a healthier campus through the Memphis Healthy U campaign. Pouncer and several U of M employees signed a pledge to be tobacco free and to exercise more.

Participants were also encouraged to visit the Student Recreation and Fitness Center.

In addition to Zumba and other group fitness classes, the Fitness Center has weight rooms, cardio equipment, personal trainers and more.

“We have state-of-the-art equipment, we have people here to show you how to use the machines, people to show you how to make an (exercise) program, and, of course, the swimming pools,” said Suzanne Fenech, coordinator for Recreation Services.

Pouncer
Pouncer

By encouraging faculty, staff and students to choose a healthier lifestyle, the campaign intends to decrease the estimated 47.3 percent of overweight individuals on campus, a statistic compiled during the Fall 2011 Student Health Fair.

These numbers “show a huge need for us to have some programs for students,” said Jacqueline DeFouw, co-chair of Memphis Healthy U and U of M health educator.

Every person choosing to participate will sign a pledge card agreeing to exercise more, eat healthier and choose to be tobacco free. Anyone interested in tobacco cessation will be given information on local programs and contacts.

“This program is helping people to stay with their New Year’s resolutions. It lets them know of all the availability and opportunities that we have on campus to ‘Move more. Eat healthier. Be tobacco free,’” said Shelly Stockton, assistant professor in Health and Sport Sciences.

All upcoming events, health research projects and health resources will be listed on the upcoming Memphis Healthy U website.

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