When it comes to promoting wellness, Florida Gulf Coast University is as good as gold.
The university’s initiatives to introduce healthy lifestyle habits among students and employees have resulted in new Gold-level designations as an American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite and as a member of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus program.
The AHA Fit-Friendly Worksite Gold Achievement acknowledges FGCU’s demonstrated commitment to physical-activity support, increased healthy-eating options on campus and promoting a wellness culture. The EIM-OC Gold recognition commends the university for promoting movement and fitness as part of the daily campus culture and giving the university community the tools necessary to make exercise a lifetime habit through education and health assessment.
Among those tools FGCU offers to help keep the university family fit are a wellness newsletter and the monthly Lunch and Learn Series. In fact, the AHA Gold award will officially be presented to FGCU by Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina, vice president of health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System, at the next Lunch and Learn at noon Feb. 23 in Cohen Center 214. Dr. Lacagnina also will talk about how to prevent and reverse cardio metabolic disease.
The first Lunch and Learn in January helped employees start an exercise program, and the March 18 presentation in Sugden Hall will focus on nutrition.
On a weekly basis, faculty and staff have a great excuse to get out and get moving at Walking Wednesdays. Participants meet at the Veterans Pavilion on the Library lawn at 12:30 p.m. and enjoy a group walk around campus for 40 minutes led by exercise physiology students from the College of Health Professions and Social Work. Besides the fresh air and exercise, there’s the added benefit of building campus camaraderie.
“I ended up walking with a person I had been exchanging emails with back and forth, and now I can put a face to the name,” said Debby LaRocco, assistant director, benefits and wellness in Human Resources, who’s the driving force behind the FGCU Employee Wellness Committee.
Dr. Renee Jeffreys, assistant professor of rehabilitative sciences, made student fitness a priority when she launched the EIM-OC program at FGCU about a year ago. “We cannot expect students to excel academically if they are not ‘well,’’’ Jeffreys said. “EIM at FGCU is the first in a series of wellness initiatives that are being led across campus to enhance existing wellness efforts, while at the same time promoting cross-campus collaborations and enhancing student learning.”
Of course, while learning and starting healthy lifestyle habits is important, dumping bad ones also helps.
As FGCU transitions to a smoke- and tobacco-free institution this summer, a free six-week cessation program for all employees and spouses starts March 3. These two-hour sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. in Edwards Hall 210 (employees can register by calling 590-1406) will show smokers how to quit successfully and avoid relapse.
That’s just as valuable as the recent FGCU gold rush.