Tarleton State University’s Recreational Sports has been implementing a new program called the Employee Wellness Program to help faculty and staff live a healthier lifestyle. The program is made up of occasional short training sessions on equipment that is provided for the faculty and staff members to keep.
According to Assistant Director for Tarleton Rec Sports Shanna Moody, the Employee Wellness Program has been in the works for a couple of years now.
“We started a couple years back with the Employee Wellness Program to try to figure out ways to get employees active,” said Moody. “We were looking for ways to improve employee morale and maybe help them be more excited for work that wouldn’t cost a whole lot of money.”
Funding eventually became available for the program, which led to the purchase of Fitbits for staff members. Fitbits are activity trackers that keep count of steps per day, active minutes, calories burned and even tracks your sleep throughout the night. Fitbits can also be synced with phones to compete with other Fitbit users in daily and weekly challenges.
Moody said that employees “had to register for the program and verify that they were doing something already to make their lives healthier, because that’s one of the first steps of change when you’re trying to get people to become consistent exercisers.”
Employees were then required to attend a training session to learn how to set up and properly use their Fitbit, which can be synced to an online page to share their progress with other members of the Employee Wellness Program.
“Now some of the students have started noticing their professors are wearing [Fitbits] and will ask them about it,” said Moody.
John Sharp, the Chancellor of the A&M System, offers grants to the universities to help promote wellness. Tarleton was able to receive one of the grants to help further the Employee Wellness Program and purchase yoga mats.
“We did a program right before Christmas break that Amy McKay from kinesiology led, and we gave everyone a yoga mat and showed them some meditation and stretching exercises,” said Moody. “We’ll do the same thing with the stability balls; we’ll show them how to use them with proper posture, ways that it can help them and exercises that they can do at their desk, even if they’re wearing a dress to work.”
Dr. Dominic Dottavio, the president of Tarleton, signed a proclamation last fall that would make Tarleton an Exercise is Medicine campus. Exercise is Medicine on Campus is a program to promote exercise and wellness to help with the overall health of students and faculty on college campuses.
“We’ve been really fortunate that Dr. Dottavio is a huge supporter of this initiative and 100 percent backs it,” said Moody. “He himself wears a Fitbit, exercises regularly and works hard to be healthy.”
Moody said the ultimate goal is to eventually have the opportunity to offer a program similar to the Employee Wellness Program to the students at Tarleton.
“We’re hoping to start extending some of these programs out to the students,” said Moody. “We’re looking at our budget and funding and realizing that’s the bigger picture here. And that’s one of the reasons we started with the faculty and staff, was to hopefully set the tone for the university.”