With WPI’s own mascot doing jumping jacks and high-fiving an enthusiastic crowd, a new fitness initiative called the Healthy Herd was unveiled to the WPI community at the Fall Town Meeting. The name was chosen through a popular vote that brought in ballots from almost half of WPI’s employees. The goal of the Healthy Herd is to bring together tips, information, and resources to help the WPI community to “Live Well. Work Well.”
Over the years, WPI has provided a variety of health and fitness offerings, ranging from Jazzercise to Weight Watchers to chair massage. Over the summer, a Health & Wellness Working Group was formed to discuss how to take wellness at WPI to the next level. Chaired by Connie Aramento, associate director of academic advising and first year programs, with input from Eric Chojnowski, Beth Mulvey, and Tracy Hassett of the Human Resources office, the group now includes almost 40 representatives from all corners of the campus who answered the call to help their WPI colleagues move toward healthier lifestyles.
“We, in the HR office are really excited about the opportunity to make a difference,” says Hassett, VP of HR. “Wellness is such an important factor for people’s lives, yet many times it takes a backseat.”
Hassett points to high-profile initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s outreach to improve the diet and activity habits of American families. “Sometimes people want to take action, but they don’t know how to begin. Another issue with wellness programs is that oftentimes the individuals who get involved are people who already are very conscious of healthy living. At WPI we would like to offer programming for all levels so we can get people involved who have not traditionally considered making some healthy changes. Our goal is to offer an avenue at work for employees to learn more, make changes, or maintain a healthier lifestyle.”
The Healthy Herd initiative brings together many of the activities that were already happening on campus, with the addition of new offerings, such as walking groups, workout buddies, new exercise options to accommodate different schedules.
A new wellness webpage has been created at wpi.edu/offices/hr/healthy-herd.html. The Healthy Herd website provides a central location to access resources, including a calendar of offerings, nutrition and health tips, and even a personal health assessment that can be filled out confidentially. The Healthy Herd also offers a bi-monthly newsletter—just email email@example.com to subscribe.
Employers also benefit from promoting a healthy workforce. “Let’s face it,” says Hassett, “the insurance rates we pay to our carrier are directly tied to the utilization of our group. Indicators like high blood pressure and cholesterol, if unchecked, can progress to bigger problems. If we can prevent that, by providing health screenings and education, it not only keeps the cost of treatment down, but also helps our workers and their families avoid the consequences of major medical conditions. In short: Everyone wins.”
Aramento welcomes feedback and involvement from the WPI community. “I encourage each department to take few minutes during staff meetings to talk about health and wellness and to direct faculty and staff to the Healthy Herd website. The Healthy Herd committee has active members who are willing to help you in any way. They are in your office, your department, and our community.”
Don’t know where to begin? Check out these easy action steps
• Visit the Healthy Herd webpage (The Healthy Herd (wpi.edu))
• Subscribe to the Healthy Herd Newsletter
• Fill out the confidential Personal Health Assessment
READY TO TAKE IT FURTHER?
• Register for a Healthy Herd session on food, fitness, mindfulness and more!
• Get involved! Contact the Healthy Herd committee with your suggestions, ideas, and feedback
Get the Healthy Herd Started
Don’t know where to begin? The Healthy Herd can help! During this 45-minute session, you can complete a personal health assessment for your use and learn about options here on campus to help you accomplish your health and wellness goals
October 30 at 5pm
Managing Daily Stresses
A Mindful Approach
Learn how to recognize the early signs of stress as well as the sources of stress. Participants will learn how mindfulness practice can enable them to respond to stressful situations in a calm, clear, and thoughtful manner.
October 10 at 4:30pm
Fitness and Food
Learn about how to use the “myplate,” a fun tool to track food and fitness.
October 15 at noon
Learn how to do simple exercises throughout the day to keep your neck and back healthy, especially at your desk.
Mindfulness: Self Care
When responsibilities connected to caring for others combine with the business of everyday life, we may forget to extend genuine care to ourselves. The cost can be burnout or “compassion fatigue.” This session explains practices that can be implemented in our daily lives to effectively foster compassion for ourselves and others.
November 12 at noon
How to Pack a Healthy Lunch
Get simple tips on how to pack lunch for work/school.
December 4 at 4:30pm
Taking Care of Aging Parents
Help establish goals for elderly loved ones, and join in a discussion of the realities of reaching these goals. Topics include elder services, understanding and coping with dementia, and medical information, to name a few.
December 16 at noon