HATTIESBURG -- Faculty
and staff at The University of Southern Mississippi are on the path
to better health while enjoying the benefits of Recreational Sports'
employee wellness program.
The program sprang from a kickoff program in July
called "Keep it Moving," in which 96 people participated
and 32 completed. This year's pilot wellness program began in August
and will continue until April 2005, said Susan Bone, Recreational
Sports assistant director for wellness.
The program is not an incentive program like "No
Payne, No Gain," in which prizes are given. Instead, the program
is free to all Southern Miss employees. They are given a free membership
to the Payne Center, as well as a free fitness assessment, a cholesterol
screening by the Southern Miss Health Center, a dexa scan to assess
bone density provided by the school of Human Performance and Recreation,
and three free personal fitness instructor sessions to help with
In exchange for these free services, employees must
attend a lecture series on motivation taught by Bone and Olivia
Ard, a licensed and registered dietician. Employees must attend
five of the nine sessions offered.
"The goal of this program is to help employees
take time out for themselves to become more healthy and more active,"
Both men and women are taking advantage of the Workout
Zone, as well as group exercise classes and the indoor and outdoor
Bone said the program has been well received so far,
with many participants who were already working out simply being
rewarded for something they would be doing anyway. Several faculty
members are getting to know each other better in a nonwork environment.
"It's great to see men and women from various
departments on campus bonding together as they work out after work."
Bone said a longterm goal of the program is to decrease
health care costs for employees and employers. Lifestyles, poor
eating choices and inactiveness all contribute to health problems,
"If we can alleviate some of these unhealthy
lifestyles, we can reduce the need for health care," Bone said.