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Encourage positive lifestyle changes with these sample wellness programs

This is an excerpt from Winning Health Promotion Strategies By Anne Marie Ludovici-Connolly, MS, CHFS


Fitness Bee

Fitness Bee is an educational program that is designed to increase knowledge of fitness and exercise facts. Fitness Bee may be offered in a variety of settings including worksites, communities, and schools. This one-hour program developed by the director of the Rhode Island State Office of Rehabilitation Services, Steven Brunero, and his wellness team may be offered as a Lunch and Learn wellness activity.

Goals

  • Increase knowledge of fitness.
  • Increase knowledge of exercise.

Description Fitness Bee is based on the game show Truth or Dare and engages participants by asking them to provide answers to questions on fitness and exercise. Prizes are awarded for correct responses. Questions for Fitness Bee may be developed by the wellness director or the wellness champions. The questions may be developed as a team effort. The person, or team, that answers the most questions correctly wins the Fitness Bee. Following are some sample questions and answers:

Sample Questions and Answers The following questions and answers are from the American Council on Exercise:

Question 1: If someone sweats during an aerobic workout, is he or she out of shape?

Answer: No. The reason for sweating is that body core temperature becomes elevated by the increase in metabolic heat production during exercise.

Question 2: Does regular participation in aerobic exercise lower an individual’s risk of developing cancer?

Answer: Research suggests that exercise often modifies some of the risk factors associated with certain kinds of cancer. Obesity, for example, has been linked to cancer of the breast and the female reproductive system.

Question 3: What is HbA1c, and what does it measure?

Answer: The HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) test measures the amount of glucose that attaches to red blood cells. The higher your blood glucose level, the more sugar your blood cells will accumulate over time. Because the typical life span of red blood cells is 90 to 120 days, the HbA1c test reflects your average blood glucose level over that time period. As a result, it measures how well your blood sugar has been controlled over a period of a few months.

Question 4: What are the benefits of varying your workout routine?

Answer: Varying your workout routine (1) prevents boredom associated with doing the same things workout after workout and (2) avoids or delays reaching a plateau in workout performance and, subsequently, training results. Research also suggests that adding variety to an exercise program may improve adherence.

Question 5: How important are the warm-up and cool-down portions of a workout?

Answer: Warm-up and cool-down activities should be an essential part of all exercise programs. Warm-up activities prepare the body for the conditioning phase of the exercise session. The cool-down phase assures that venous (blood) return to the heart is maintained in the face of significant amounts of blood going to the previously working muscles.

Enhancements

  • Fitness Bee may be tailored to include a Nutrition Bee or a General Health Bee.
  • Schedule Fitness Bee at lunchtime in the worksite, during class time in school, or in the evening at a community center.
  • Advertise Fitness Bee and offer small prizes or incentives for teams or individuals who win.
  • Fitness Bee can be offered in a variety of different ways. Offer Fitness Bee for a designated period of time such as six to eight consecutive weeks, or offer it as a one-time event.
  • Include Fitness Bee as part of a health fair or other wellness event or program.
  • If Fitness Bee is offered as part of a Lunch and Learn wellness program, a healthy lunch may be served.

For More Information Visit www.cdc.gov/ for potential question content organized by health topics.

  Ludovici 114 box.png

An Apple a Day

An Apple a Day is a nutrition intervention program. Participants who eat an apple each day at work, school, or a community-based organization such as a community center or health club for 21 consecutive days receive an incentive such as a raffle ticket.

Goals

  • Increase apple (fruit) consumption.
  • Educate participants on the benefits of eating apples (fruit).

Description A bushel of shiny, delicious apples is prominently displayed on a table next to the front desk, and employees are encouraged to take one each day for the month of September. (Contact local orchards to obtain discounted rates on apples, or encourage participants to bring their own apple in each day.) Employees get Apple a Day cards punched each day they eat an apple. (See the bottom of this page for a punch card you can use.) At the end of the 21 days, anyone who hands in a completed punch card is entered into a raffle. Apple recipes are also provided each week to help employees continue eating apples by providing a variety of options for preparing or cooking with apples. This type of intervention is effective because it reinforces education (i.e., learning about the benefits of apple consumption) with the desired behavior change (i.e., increased apple consumption).

Enhancements

  • Contact local registered dietitians or nutritionists in private practice or at your state or local health departments or universities, or contact your local culinary college or any college in your area that offers a culinary arts program, for handouts on the benefits of eating apples and other fruits and vegetables, recipes, or on-site cooking demonstrations.
  • Recipe boards may be hung in various locations for participants to share apple recipes.
  • This program may be just a one-day awareness event at which apples, recipes, and handouts on their health benefits are distributed.

For More Information Visit www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/ to read about the benefits of eating apples (fruit) and for creative recipes.

Stop, Stretch, and Breathe

Stop, Stretch, and Breathe is a 10-minute stress management and physical activity performed in a chair. This program may be offered at worksites, community-based organizations, or schools prior to meetings, classes, or workshops, or as a stand-alone program. Stop, Stretch, and Breathe may be offered as an eight-week series or as an ongoing program.

Goals

  • Increase blood flow and improve range of motion through stretching.
  • Reduce stress through muscle relaxation and deep breathing.

Description You may immediately identify the smell of lavender when you enter the room for your Stop, Stretch, and Breathe class. The sound of water is coming from a small waterfall on a table in the front of the room. The lights are dim, and a screen saver of a fish tank is projected from a laptop computer on the front wall of the room. Ocean sounds emanate from a softly playing CD. All of these staging techniques help to enhance relaxation. The instructor, standing at the entrance to the room, encourages you to take a seat and begin to unwind for a few moments before the session begins.

Begin the session by walking participants through the following steps:

1. Sit up straight and maintain this posture. Let your head balance between your shoulders so you feel no strain in your neck.

2. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable enough to do so. (If not, ask participants to focus their attention on the fish tank screen saver or other relaxing visual projected on the front wall of the room.)

3. Clear your mind, letting go of any stressful, negative, or judging thoughts.

4. Notice your breathing. Your breathing should be slow and fairly regular, without any big gulps of air. Notice your chest rising and falling. Notice the feeling of air entering and exiting your throat.

5. Notice any tightness, soreness, or stiffness in your muscles. Try to relax these muscles by tensing and relaxing them. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Demonstrate and perform the following exercises (and be sure to have copies of this list to hand out):

1. Do five repetitions of each of the following:

  • Deep, relaxing breaths
  • Forward neck rolls
  • Front shoulder rolls
  • Back shoulder rolls
  • Upward shoulder shrugs while breathing in, and shoulder drops when breathing out
  • Shoulder retractions by pulling the shoulders back so that the shoulder blades move toward each other

2. Deeply inhale while raising both arms above your head. Hold for a moment then gradually lower your arms while slowly exhaling.

3. Raise one arm, bend to the side, and lower the arm slowly. Repeat with the other arm.

4. Raise your arms over your head again, and this time fold forward slowly, lowering your head between your legs until the top of your head faces toward the floor. Hold this position for several seconds while continuing to breathe. (This exercise is similar to inverted poses in yoga.)

5. With your hands on your thighs just above your kneecaps, come up very slowly with your back in an arched (i.e., cat stretch) position.

6. Return to a seated position and resume a straight posture.

7. Notice whether any muscles in your body are still tense. If so, tense and relax those muscles until all strain is gone.

8. End the session with five deep, relaxing breaths.

Enhancements

  • Add more chair yoga exercises, such as the seated triangle pose, to extend the length of the program.
  • Provide educational materials on stress management.
  • Add a 10-minute educational component, or pair with an educational lecture provided by a health care professional or vendor (e.g., employee assistance program).

Screen Savers

Screen Savers is a health awareness program to increase healthy lifestyle behaviors throughout the work- or school day.

Goal

Improve lifestyle behaviors and health habits.

Description The phrase Stop, Stretch, and Breathe moves across the computer screen. A screen saver (which supports the three Vs in chapter 2) reminds Sharon, a budget analyst working in a stressful state budget office, to take a few minutes every few hours to stop, stretch, and breathe to improve her breathing, reduce her mental and physical tension, and reduce her stress level. Putting a visual reminder on the computer screen at her desk prompts Sharon to perform a healthy behavior in the midst of a narrow focus on her primary task at hand—budget development and review. Sometimes at work or school, we may get so focused on our work, that we disregard any thoughts of incorporating healthy lifestyle behaviors into our daily schedules. Given that the average workweek has increased to 50 hours, it becomes even more important to integrate good health habits into our daily lives.

Here are some sample screen savers:

  • Take a 10-minute walk.
  • Look up a healthy recipe for dinner.
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep tonight.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Drink eight to ten 8-ounce (237 ml) glasses of water today.
  • Check my blood pressure.
  • Eat an apple.

Enhancements

  • Distribute a list of screen savers. Ask participants to select one per month to display on their computers.
  • As a school project, ask students to create their own screen savers to display on their computers each week or month.
  • Create screen savers of photos of employees or students engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors.



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