As the school year opens, in addition to celebrating its centennial, De La Salle University will be charging ahead with a health and wellness program for its faculty, administrators and staff.
“Our ‘Animo Wellness’ campaign consists of a health and wellness information drive and a series of activities that promote a healthy lifestyle among our employees,” says Edwin Reyes, director of the university’s Office for Sports Development. “Employees observe a full trimestral schedule that can be very stressful.”
Employees are motivated through a Passport to Wellness, where they collect stamps for every in-campus Animo Wellness activity joined. Those who gain the correct number of stamps qualify for raffles, where treats such as iPod Nanos with Adidas miCoach kits and spa retreats are given away.
Starting this trimester, employees will be sent a packet containing information on risks associated with an unhealthy Body Mass Index, an indicator of body fat calculated from a person’s weight and height. “The kit contains a measuring tape with instructions on how to use it to compute for one’s BMI,” Reyes says.
On the campus, a series of posters posing the question “What are you going to do about it?” will challenge them about their BMI measurement results. “Other posters and stickers will announce that hypertension is the leading ailment of DLSU employees, while offering simple but useful fitness trivia called ‘Live Green Tips,’” he says.
Since weight and hypertension issues are linked not just to exercise but also diet, the campaign will also encourage proper nutrition through healthy eating. Electronic billboards, posters and stickers around the campus will carry nutrition information on cafeteria food.
The university will also hold two programs that “employees can easily incorporate in their daily lives.”
“Stairway to Wellness” encourages the use of the stairs instead of elevators in going less than three floors up or down. “We’ll have posters on elevator walls and along stairwells that note the number of calories that can be burned and the cardiovascular and other physical benefits that can be achieved in using the stairs,” he says.
“Later on, the ‘Stairway to Wellness’ will ‘level-up’ into the ‘Conquer Andrew Challenge,’” he says, Andrew being Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall, a 21-story campus building where a stair-climbing competition will be held.
A series of easy-to-follow chair yoga routines will be shown on electronic billboards around campus and uploaded on YouTube.
The Animo Wellness is meant to be a long-term campaign, and builds on efforts that were already in place to promote wellness in the community.
Last year, the university held a weight-loss challenge inspired by the television show “Biggest Loser” for faculty and students. “The challenge was a success with the turnout and the resulting weight loss of its participants,” Reyes says.
Health and wellness seminars are regularly held with experts as speakers. “Last year we had topics ranging from basic life support to stress relief to increasing one’s emotional quotient,” he says.
“The Animo Wellness campaign targets not just the physical well-being, but mental, emotional and spiritual health of participants as well,” he notes.
To this end, the university also maintains Shalom Center, a 100-sq m in-campus facility intended as a place for faculty and staff to rest, relax and engage in wellness activities such as meditation, massage and yoga.
It features several air-conditioned lounge areas, a silent room, coffee area and a media lounge where guests can relax to music and videos. Reflexology services and yoga classes are offered. “The center hosts activities year-round like videoke night, comedy night, book club. We average around 30 visits a day,” he says.
“Our founder, Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, dedicated his life to educating the less fortunate,” Reyes says. “He’s the patron saint of teachers. It’s only fitting that we also teach our teachers how to stay fit so they can teach well. Healthy people contribute to a productive society.”