‘Healthy Choices’ gives faculty, staff incentives for healthy living

GVL/ Amalia Heichelbech
Campus Helth Center Employee Amy Newenhouse taking Ashlee Olsens blood pressure.

Amalia Heichelbech

GVL/ Amalia Heichelbech Campus Helth Center Employee Amy Newenhouse taking Ashlee Olsen’s blood pressure.

Samantha Belcher

With health risks riding on every consumed French fry and slab of meat, many Americans look to minimize potential health problems by eating healthier, exercising more and making a conscious effort to care for their bodies.

Some organizations even offer incentives to encourage healthy living.

The Grand Valley State University Health and Wellness Center announced that the university will give a $200 deposit initiative for faculty and staff members who participate in Healthy Choices, a Health and Wellness program that encourages healthy lifestyles through programming and events.

One particular program offered is Know Your Numbers, a clinical health risk assessment program.

Know Your Numbers allows GVSU faculty and staff members to have all aspects of their health tested. On-site nurses take blood samples to conduct 30 to 40 tests, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Director of Student Information and Services Center Tom Owens started participating in Know Your Numbers in 2010, and he said his health results have been well and in the normal range ever since.

“Knowing your own health can only make you more well rounded as an individual and more productive in the workplace,” he said, adding that he and his co-workers participate in the program together so they can encourage each other and promote healthier choices. “Because we do it here, it can only promote better health for all who participate.”

In order to receive the initiative, staff members must complete the blood draw and the health risk assessment online between March 2 and 23. GVSU employees must also track their wellness activities online.

Lindsey DesArmo, GVSU health and wellness coordinator, said the annual program started in 2008 because wellness is a primary focus at GVSU.

“The benefit has been stimulating conversations with health care professionals,” DesArmo said.

According to the Health and Wellness department, about 25 percent of faculty and staff members participated in the health assessment last year.

The participants were given an overall health score based on the blood tests and a questionnaire they filled out. All results and scores are kept confidential.

Owens said the program helps improve staff members’ personal and professional health.

“With a healthy body and mind we can have healthy relationships on campus with students and co-workers,” DesArmo said.

Owens said just knowing his wellness information helps him realize he is doing the right thing with his health. He added that having the program at GVSU makes him feel even more valued by his employer.

“It is really comforting in that we can do it right here,” he said.

All GVSU benefit-eligible employees and their spouses can participate in the health program, which is managed through GVSU’s insurance provider UMR. The program lasts from March 2 to 23, with assessments running on March 12 through 16.

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/healthwellness.

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