HERSHEY, Pa. — Workplace wellness has become increasingly popular in recent years, as healthy changes not only help to keep employees motivated and engaged, but also lower risks for obesity, diabetes and chronic pain.
Thanks to funding from Penn State LionPulse, Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center has been able to increase the awareness and utilization of wellness resources by its employees and to improve wellness opportunities, especially in the realm of physical activity.
To gauge interest and impact, health champions Laura Welliver, grant and special projects officer, and Monica Rush, director of rehabilitation services, and the Penn State Health St. Joseph wellness committee decided to pilot three new physical activity programs during the spring, summer and fall.
An eight-week InBody Challenge was introduced in February to inspire employees to improve their health. This national program allows companies to partner with local fitness centers to help employees reach individual goals. The initial cost to join the program was $75; however, with the help of LionPulse funds, participants were able to participate for only $50. After signing up, 75 participants worked with Alliance Fitness, a local gym in Reading, to create and reach personal wellness goals.
At the end of the program, participants lost a combined total of 109 pounds. The top three winners were determined by the change in the percentage of body fat lost and the percentage of lean body mass/muscle gained between the initial and final assessment.
“I never expected to be in the winner circle,” the first-place winner noted. “The year membership to Alliance Fitness will certainly help me keep this commitment!” Another participant commented, “Words can’t express how much I needed this challenge to jump-start my health journey. I am so grateful it was offered at just the right time for me! The group 101 classes were my absolute favorite, and the variety of exercises was different each time, which I loved!”
The success of the InBody Challenge was spotlighted by the Reading Eagle, which published “Fitness challenge helps Penn State Health St. Joseph employees boost their physical and mental health” on May 2.
Aside from the InBody Challenge, Rush and her team partnered with BLDG 7 Yoga to host a family yoga series during the summer. The free classes, which were open to all employees and their families, were held at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center’s healing garden. The program had a great response, with more than 50 individuals participating in the six classes that were offered from May to July.
Due to the success of the InBody Challenge, St. Joseph Medical Center announced a similar program, the “Roar into Fitness Wellness Challenge,” which will be hosted from Sept. 16 to Nov. 15. This program will offer participants wellness screenings and educate employees about the importance of exercising and eating right. For more information or to sign up, visit https://bodyzonesports.com/ROAR.
Interested in future LionPulse events on your campus? To stay on the pulse with wellness events and resources, visit sites.psu.edu/lionpulse. LionPulse is a Penn State PRO Wellness initiative to enhance wellness within the Penn State community, funded through a seed grant to support the University’s strategic plan. Since fall 2018, LionPulse has worked with a network of health champions and wellness committees across 11 Penn State campuses.