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Released November 10, 2004


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 resistance training.

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," Bone said.

Both men and women are taking advantage of the Workout Zone, as well as group exercise classes and the indoor and outdoor walking tracks.

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, she said.

"If we can alleviate some of these unhealthy lifestyles, we can reduce the need for health care," Bone said.


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November 24, 2004 2:27 PM