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WMU faculty, staff work toward wellness

May 9, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's wellness program ended its first year this spring with approximately 575 participants improving their waistlines, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, muscle tone and overall health habits. The program, "Western Wellness, Improving On A Good Thing," wrapped up the end of March with the following results:

  • 172 staff and faculty lowered their cholesterol levels
  • 150 lowered their blood pressure
  • 110 reduced their percentage of body fat
  • 108 improved their overall fitness habits
  • 96 shrank their waistlines

At the start of the program in March 2006, 51 percent of the group was considered low risk for heart disease. Low risk is defined as meeting accepted levels in at least 10 of 12 categories--fitness habits, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, smoking, stress, coping, depression, alcohol consumption, fruit and fiber intake and fat intake.

The group pulled up that percentage after a year to 59 percent of participants considered low risk. The program's goal is to eventually bring that up to 70 percent of participants with no or low risk of heart disease.

The percentage of participants with medium risk--those having three to four of the health risks--marginally increased from 35 percent to 36 percent. However, the percentage of those with a high risk of heart disease--five or more health risks--dropped significantly in the year from 14 percent to just five percent.

"This is an excellent amount of improvement in a group in a short amount of time," says Ken Holtyn, president of the Kalamazoo-based Holtyn and Associates Health Promotion Consultants hired by WMU to run the wellness program.

Here's how it works. Participants fill out a health survey and take an onsite wellness screening. Each person then meets privately with a wellness professional who creates a customized health plan to reach specific goals.

A wellness professional periodically follows up with each participant whose progress is measured by repeating the health survey, tracking blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and physical fitness. Personal wellness data is available to each participant on an individual's own secured Web site.

Holtyn is currently signing up WMU faculty and staff for the second year of the wellness program with a handful of vacancies in its current 575 slots, and the program hopes to add another 500 openings in the fall, he added.

For more information, visit www.holtynhpc.com.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

WMU News
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