UNI takes strides toward good health

Who said college is all work and no play? The University of Northern Iowa's Wellness & Recreation Services (WRS) offers students and employees a variety of health and fitness programs.

Rock climbing
A popular activity at the WRC is rock climbing.

Last year, more than 9,000 students utilized resources provided by WRS. This included 3,000 students who participated in the intramural sports program, and another 1,000 who were active in fitness classes. About 175 members of UNI staff and faculty participated in fitness classes, with 25 using a personal trainer provided by WRS. Some of the more popular programs include aquatics classes, intramural sports, fitness classes and personal instructors.

"WRS is a great benefit to students at UNI," said Philip Musson, a senior at UNI. "Intramural flag football season is one of my favorite times of the school year, and I use the Wellness & Recreation Center (WRC) nearly everyday in the winter to work out. It's definitely a huge selling point when I'm talking to friends who are thinking about coming to UNI."

Health is more than just jogging and weightlifting; it's a lifestyle.  Services such as violence intervention and substance abuse programs are also available to students through WRS.

For the more adventurous students, faculty and staff, UNI provides an Outdoor Recreation service where one can canoe, ski, bike, rock climb and hike the mountains of Colorado during university breaks.

Health and wellness programs can also be found in the classroom. UNI offers a health promotion major with several emphasis areas that allow students to pursue careers as corporate fitness trainers, health educators and more.

"The health program at UNI prepares students by providing us with unforgettable experiences in and out of the classroom," said Caitlin Schaeffer, a physical education major at UNI. "We learn applicable material that will be carried on throughout our careers and are provided with resources that will benefit our futures. The health education professors have helped me develop a passion for my career."

UNI is not only committed to offering students a great facility and outstanding programs, but also to employee wellness. UNI's wellness program offered by WRS focuses on four different areas: preventative health, physical activity, nutrition and stress management. Beginning in December, WRS will lead a campaign encouraging employees to participate in "Live Healthy Iowa," an Iowa Sports Foundation program that involves team-based wellness challenges aimed at promoting positive lifestyle changes. WRS also hosted the 5th annual Autumn-Matic Wellness Fair in October, which included exhibits focused on healthy lifestyle choices.

"WRS offers a wealth of programs and services to meet the unique needs and interests of students, faculty, staff and retirees," said Kathy Green, director of University Health Services. "Whether individuals are interested in adventure, relaxation, fitness, competition, or socialization, we have something for everyone. Most anything that can be found in the community can be found within WRS, with the additional benefit of on-campus convenience."

Governor Terry Branstad recently released his initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. With all of the programs offered through WRS, it is clear that UNI is doing its part.