Improving OSU’s quality of life through healthy choices

OSU faculty, staff and students participated in the OSU Run, Walk 'N Roll with the President on Oct. 15, as part of the Healthy Life Challenge at Oregon State. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

As the new year arrives, many optimistic souls have vowed to make dramatic improvements to their lives, whether it be going back to the gym, swearing off sweets or trying, for once and for all, to give up smoking.

Oregon State University has countless resources on campus to support those who want to make healthier choices. For some, it can be as simple as choosing to walk an extra block or get up a few minutes early to eat a healthy breakfast. For others who want a more dramatic or profound change in health, OSU resources can make the challenge of change less daunting through services and programs.

OSU has received a $1 million gift from PacificSource Health Plans to participate in the statewide Oregon Healthy Challenge. The money, distributed over five years, is split between research and programming, and at OSU the focus will be on physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco cessation, in alignment with the Health Improvement Plan for the State of Oregon.

While the research portion is still being allocated, programming dollars are being distributed to support and amplify some of the many programs already on campus that focus on these three key areas.

Lisa Hoogesteger, director of Healthy Campus Initiatives at Oregon State, is leading the implementation team for the Oregon Healthy Challenge at the university. Hoogesteger said the funding from PacificSource will help Oregon State programs reach more of the campus community.

“It’s important for Oregon State students, faculty and staff to have the support and information they need to make healthy life choices that will improve their quality of life,” Hoogesteger said. “The Oregon Healthy Challenge gives us the tools we need to make our programs more visible, and to provide a hand up for those who want to make the right choices but aren’t sure how.”

In the area of healthy eating, organizers are focusing on increasing the availability of and awareness about drinking tap water on campus, helping the Student Dietetic Association organize National Nutrition Month in March, and gathering information about student nutritional habits.

The tobacco cessation group is supporting Student Health Services’ effort to offer free nicotine gum or patches to students attempting to quit smoking. The gum and patches are available after the students receive two free tobacco cessation counseling sessions through SHS.

Faculty and staff can access tobacco cessation counseling for $20 on the initial visit and $10 per follow-up session, or they can access the free Quit For Life program through the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (PEBB).

The physical activity committee’s focus is to promote existing services and programs on campus, and to get and keep folks moving who aren’t right now.  One of the first programs the group supported was Beaver Strides, a weekly walking group that provides free pedometers and support to participants. Through Healthy Challenge funds, Beaver Strides has now been funded for faculty and staff, and enrollment has greatly increased.

The group is also working to better promote Faculty/Staff Fitness and Recreational Sports offerings.

A crucial part of the Healthy Life Challenge at Oregon State is a newly created website called “Be Well.” The site is a portal to all the resources the university offers to help students, staff and faculty make healthy choices. From where to exercise to what to eat to how to access nicotine replacement therapy on campus, the website will make it even easier to chose to live a better, healthier life.

The website is available at: www.oregonstate.edu/bewell

~ Theresa Hogue

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