Hello! My name is Colleen, and I am a first year Human Nutrition student at SPH. I thought it would be fun to write my first post about my job this semester at MHealthy, the University of Michigan’s employee wellness program. Have you heard of employee wellness program initiatives? Basically, companies offer free health education and promotion classes and activities for staff in order to improve employee health and overall productivity. Since people spend such large portions of their time at work, the workplace is a great place for health interventions! MHealthy offers everything from exercise classes to nutrition consults to tobacco cessation programs. Pretty neat! It’s great to see such a strong commitment to health from the University. Besides completing the normal administrative tasks at the office, I also have the opportunity to dabble in some of the MHealthy offerings.
Last week, I sat in on a Weight Management class taught by an MHealthy dietitian. This class is a great example of employee wellness in action. The free class is offered each week on campus during the lunch hour, which makes it very convenient for employees to participate. The class that I attended focused on balancing calorie intake and expenditure, and it incorporated a lot of group discussion and interaction. We all practiced using resistance bands and simple exercises that can be performed at a desk in order to increase one’s energy expenditure for the day. It was pretty awesome to whip out a few push-ups while at work! I also enjoyed celebrating class participants’ dietary achievements for the past week and hearing the teacher’s words of encouragement. As a dietetics student, it was fun for me to see a dietitian in action. Sometimes I get so consumed in memorizing metabolic pathways and vitamin transport systems for class that I lose sight of the ultimate goal of my education—teaching nutrition to my clients! I left the 45 minute class feeling incredibly excited to start my career in a few years.
Another great thing about MHealthy’s services? Some are open to graduate students, too! Active U is a physical activity program launched by MHealthy each winter semester, and University employees and graduate students are welcome to participate. Participants form teams with friends and coworkers to keep each other accountable as they track their physical activity minutes each day for the semester. Teams are ranked each week based on team member participation, and the competition gets fierce. My team, Public Health Fitness Fanatics, is holding strong in 25th place this week!
MHealthy is a powerful example of an interdisciplinary approach to public health—dietitians, personal trainers, and health educators all work together to improve health at the University. Check out more at http://www.hr.umich.edu/mhealthy/.