Based upon recent awards as well as broad utilization by DMU students and employees, the University’s wellness program is in excellent health.
In April, DMU received a 2014 Healthy Iowa College or University Award, along with the University of Northern Iowa, from Iowa’s business-led, government-endorsed “healthiest state” initiative. This comprehensive well-being improvement program seeks to make Iowa the nation’s healthiest state, up from its current 10th-place ranking, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.
The initiative and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) also recognized schools, small and large businesses and individuals leading Iowa’s charge. Award recipients demonstrated collaboration, high levels of engagement and implementation of policies to support wellness.
“Many of these organizations take a holistic approach to health, providing a comprehensive network of information and programming supporting healthier living not only for their employees or students, but for their families and the community at large,” Dennis Haney, IDPH program manager, said in the awards announcement.
Also in April, the American Heart Association (AHA) designated DMU as a 2014 Platinum-level Fit-Friendly Worksite for helping employees eat healthier and move more. The association reports that obesity costs American businesses $12.7 billion per year in medical expenses and $225.8 billion in health-related productivity losses, so any program that increases physical activity of employees will have a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.
“As a Platinum-level Worksite, we have demonstrated that we offer our employees physical activity support, that we have increased the number of healthy eating options available at the worksite and that we promote a wellness culture here,” says Joy Schiller, M.S., CHES, who was named DMU’s first wellness program director in 1989. “We embrace at least nine criteria as outlined by the AHA in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture. In addition, we demonstrated specific, quantifiable and measureable outcomes relating to workplace wellness.”
DMU also was the only organization in Iowa to be awarded an AHA Innovation Award for the University’s “Triminators” weight management program. Participants in the 12-week program, implemented last September, met weekly in the wellness center’s teaching kitchen for a healthy lunch and cooking demonstrations based upon the Volumetrics diet devised by Penn State University nutritional sciences Professor Barbara Rolls, Ph.D.
The 32 Triminators lost a total of 183.2 pounds, and the 13 participants who opted to complete post-program assessment measurements lost a combined 68.75 inches of girth.
DMU’s wellness program includes a 25,000-square-foot wellness center with an abundance of weights, machines and other workout equipment; a wide variety of fitness classes and intramural sports; healthy cooking and nutrition sessions in the center’s teaching kitchen; wellness incentive programs; and personal consultations and training from three full-time staff members. In 2009, DMU became the nation’s first university or college to earn platinum status, the highest recognition granted by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA). In 2012, the University reapplied for and again was awarded platinum status, the nation’s only college or university so recognized.
“These designations have great meaning to both DMU and the wellness team, as they acknowledge and affirm our vision to provide comprehensive wellness programming to improve the health and wellness of our faculty, employees and students,” Schiller says.