Debbie Long learned about the Healthy Living Program while participating in another campus recreation activity.
“I participate in one of the walking group on campus,” said Long, a training specialist in the Department of Human Resources at UTHSC. “Suzanne Apperson is the walking leader in my group, so she and another walker who previously went through the class talked a lot about it. It sounded really fun. I could use the added measure to help me be more disciplined and this is a great opportunity for that, so I signed up.”
UTHSC’s Department of Campus Recreation created the Healthy Living Program in September 2015. The program has held nine sessions since it began. A total of 100 participants have completed the on-campus, 12-week program designed to educate, motivate, and give some structure to individuals who want to change lifestyle behaviors for the better. It is free of charge to faculty, students, and staff.
“The concept of the Healthy Living Program comes from the Action for Health in Diabetes Trial, a study in which I was a lifestyle interventionist, during my time in the Department of Preventive Medicine,” said J. Lee Taylor, MEd, MBA, director of Campus Recreation at UTHSC. “It is designed to increase caloric expenditure through increased physical activity and decrease caloric intake through calorie reduction and healthier eating. We teach participants lifestyle strategies to achieve these goals.”
Once a week, participants learn about nutrition topics and fitness, and are exposed to different forms of exercise in a group setting. Upon completion, participants are encouraged to keep in touch with their accountability partners and are invited back once a month to participate in the following group’s sessions. This year, as an incentive, participants are receiving fleece jackets from Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Kennard Brown.
For Sanjana Haque, a fourth-year PhD student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program in the College of Graduate Health Sciences, the program provides a very friendly, supportive, and interactive environment. “You learn stuff and are motivated to apply it to your life,” she said. “I was surprised to learn that diet and exercise don’t have to be highly strict. I just need to maintain a proper balance and check what I am doing in terms of food and physical activities.”
Haque encourages those who are interested in improving their lifestyle to join. “The program allows you to learn more about your health and guides you to a better lifestyle,” she said. “Anyone who is willing to bring a positive and healthy change in their lifestyle should do it.”
The next Healthy Living Program session will take place early next year. For more information on how to join the Healthy Living Program, contact Suzanne Apperson at firstname.lastname@example.org.