The University of Texas-Pan American’s Border Health Office implements a wellness program on campus called “Step Up To Your Health” to encourage faculty and staff to become more physically fit. The comprehensive program includes such features as marked walking paths, e-mail newsletters with tips for healthy living and recipes, pamphlets illustrating exercises that can be done at the desk and a lecture series.
“Our employees are a big part of the community. Studies show that the Diabetes Index (DI) is four times higher in our four counties than the rest of the country,” said Eddie Quintanilla, health educator coordinator in the Border Health Office at UTPA. “We need to provide our employees with education and opportunities to improve their health.”
The wellness program is part of the Provost’s initiative to provide healthy living options and opportunities to the campus community.
“The concern for improving the well-being of faculty and staff comes out of the continued loss of faculty and staff due to major illness associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Rodolfo Arevalo, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at UTPA. “In addition medical reports continue to stress the growing problems with obesity and the negative effects of a poor diet.”
In December of 2003 the Border Health Office provided a health and living habits survey to faculty and staff via e-mail. For those that responded to the survey the office gave out pedometers and water bottles.
“The survey was prepared to collect information on how much exercise was being done by employees and if they were taking advantage of their break times,” said Ruby De La Garza, health educator coordinator in the Border Health Office at UTPA. “We found that many people aren’t aware they can take one fifteen minute break in the morning and one in the afternoon.”
The Border Health Office has also mapped and tracked various walking paths on campus for people to enjoy. Maps are posted along the paths marking route and length. The office hopes people will use their breaks to access the paths.
Currently, people can get information on how to read food packages for nutritional content, tips for eating out, suggestions for parents to help their children eat more healthily and the benefits of regular exercise from the Border Health Office.
For more information call the Border Health Office at 381-2815 or 381-2820.