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Health Promotions pushes for new challenges with ‘Ospreys on the Move’

The UNF Health Promotion office is presenting a program this spring to help students take control of its overall health with the “Ospreys on the Move” program.

The 10-week program, now in it’s fourth year, motivates people to walk 10,000 steps a day to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Shelly Purser, director of health promotion, said she hopes to expose students to a variety of healthy lifestyles. She feels the program can connect students who might need new ways to improve their health.

“It might build a friendship as far as a workout buddy,” Purser said.

Ashley Ballard, coordinator of health education at health promotion, said walking 10,000 steps a day is equivalent to 30 minutes of exercise. Students get the chance to set goals and provide challenges for bettering their health.

The program is incentive-based, Ballard said, and the office of Health Promotions will provide rewards for students that meet their goals. One of the special aspects of the program is that speakers will be coming to talk with students each week on different health topics.

Ballard said the speakers will be a part of the “lunch and learn” events the office will be promoting.

“We’ll have a ‘Healthy osprey challenge’ where [students] either have to go to a fitness class or they have to do some type of challenge throughout one of the departments here on campus,” Ballard said. “Then we’ll have weekly walks and weekly check-ins.”

Kendall McCray, health educator and HIV counselor for the office, said many students try to kick a certain habit for the new year or improve their overall fitness and nutrition. He said the program could help students who try and make New Year’s resolutions and wish to stick with them throughout the semester.

“We can pick up on them and actually help them to reach those goals that they’re making for themselves this time of year,” McCray said.

Part of the program’s goal is to make it personal for participants. McCray said the counselors at the office get to know them and tailor the program to meet individual goals and objectives.

Jan. 25 acted as the kick-off day for the event, but Ballard said students who still want to participate can still stop by the Health Promotions office to sign up.

Alcohol and Drugs
With Spring Break coming up soon, Kendall McCray said it is important for students to be careful of where they place their drinks to prevent spiking. Consider how much you are drinking and drink lightly. Students should always have a dependable designated driver.

Environmental Health
The Health Promotion office started giving out tote bags to students to cut down on the use of plastic bags when they are shopping. Be aware of the amount of plastic you consume and find ways to recycle. Shelly Purser said students should be willing to pick up trash they find on campus to clean things up.

Mental Health
Mike Kennedy and other members of the Health Promotions office can help students with stress management skills and ways to deal with anxiety and mild depression. Ashley Ballard said the office may refer students to the counseling center for more severe mental health issues. Purser said all aspects of personal health are connected to mental health, and the Health Promotions office provides varying services for each student’s individual needs.

Physical Health
McCray said students should start slowly when trying to incorporate an exercise regiment into your schedule. “Don’t try to rush into something if you haven’t done it yet,” McCray said. For students interested in getting into running, they should start by walking briskly to build up endurance and stamina. Ballard said students should take advantage of the fitness assessment, where students can learn about five different components of their personal fitness.

Sexual Health
Aside from always using protection during intercourse, Ballard and McCray both agree students should get tested for HIV and STDs, regardless of the level of their sexual activity. “A lot of [STIs] can be asymptomatic,” Ballard said. McCray said it is important to be comfortable with talking to your partner about sex and STDs.

McCray said the Health Promotion office strongly pushes for students to pack their own lunches to prevent impulse eating at fast food restaurants. Students fall into a rut by eating whatever is convenient. Purser said students should drink more water and avoid soft drinks and caffeine.

Stress Management
Health Promotion offers a stress-free zone for students to come and cool down. The office provides progressive relaxation CDs for students as methods for controlling stress. Purser suggests taking a walk on the nature trail and setting aside time to relax and find enjoyment during the semester.

Violence Prevention
Health Promotion helps with drug and alcohol interventions, as well as HIV counseling, by addressing the need to prevent violence in these situations. McCray said the office may work with the UNF Women’s Center to discuss the topic in detail. Purser said it is important to be aware of your surroundings on campus, especially at night. If you need an escort to your car, call UPD and they will assist you.

Here is a list of some of the speakers presenting during the semester. The lunches will generally take place in the Health Promotions office – depending on the amount of students — in Building 3, room 1201 at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Feb. 1: Cardio Health, Heather Kite
Feb. 8: Nutrition 101, Marilyn Dahl
Feb. 15: Strength Training, Jim Baur
Feb. 22: Living Stress Free, Kristin Kennedy
March 1: Mental Health, Mike Kennedy
March 8: Spiritual Health, Angela Davis
March 22: Go Green, TBD
March 29: Goal Planning, Shelly Purser

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