UCA offers free wellness program with incentives

If you?re one of the millions of Americans who resolved to become healthier as the clock struck midnight on New Year?s Eve as well as being a UCA employee, then you?re in luck. The university is now offering an employee wellness program that could make your waist slimmer and your wallet fatter.

The new program, which began this month, operates on a point system. Employees must accumulate a total of 20 points from four core wellness areas: Healthy movement, healthy behavior, healthy knowledge and healthy social activities.

The program has core requirements that equal 14 points. Participants must also take part in additional activities to earn the additional six points needed to complete the program. Any employee may participate in any of the wellness programs offered, but only UCA employees who are enrolled with the university?s health insurance provider and earn a total of 20 points throughout the year may receive the $200 financial incentive at the end of the program.

The program runs from Jan. 1 through Nov. 13, 2004. In following years, the program will run from November to November. Health/Wellness Promotions Director Carin Dehmer said, ?We needed a starting point for this year, and we decided to make it January 1, but after this year, the program will begin in November and end the following November. That will allow us to work with an entire calendar year.?

In the past the university has offered a similar program that encompassed only physical activity on a six-month basis. The new program is designed to incorporate other areas of wellness into healthy living.

For those familiar with the old program, the new program works much the same. Log sheets are available in the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Center to help keep track of activities that will earn points.

The core requirements for the program include earning a minimum of six points for healthy movement, three points for healthy behaviors, three points for healthy knowledge and two points for healthy social activities.

Participants may earn one healthy movement point by doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity 12 times in one month. Doing this for a total of six months (not necessarily consecutive) will complete the core requirements for that area.

Up to an additional six points may be earned for continuing their activity during the other six months of the year.

Participants must complete three health screenings at the beginning and end of the year to receive their three healthy behavior points. The screenings are for blood glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. The blood glucose and cholesterol tests are done with a finger stick. Participants will have their results to take with them after the screening. Dehmer said participants who have recently had the screenings done by their doctor should bring in proof to receive their points.

After completing the health screenings, each participant will receive a free pedometer. The contraption, which is the size of a pager, records the number of steps a person takes while wearing it. ?We?re giving everyone a free pedometer because we thought it might be a good way for people to see how active they really are,? Dehmer said.

Up to an additional three points may be earned by participating in additional screenings such as bone density screening, hearing screening, showing proof of an annual physical, dental, gynecological, mammogram or urologist exam.

Participants must participate in three mandatory core healthy knowledge activities for three points in that area. The first thing participants must do is complete a 50-question online health risk appraisal at the beginning and end of the year. Next, participants must complete a self-care seminar where each person will receive a free Healthwise Handbook. Finally, participants must attend a prescription awareness seminar where experts will tell participants what types of questions they should ask about their prescriptions and how to talk to their doctors about their prescriptions.

Up to three more points may be earned by attending various health and wellness workshops that will be provided throughout the year including recipe modification, stress reduction techniques, and financial sense.

Participants must earn two points for healthy social activities. They can earn a point for attending a UCA athletic event, going to a performance at Reynolds, donating blood, or by attending social programs outside of UCA.

Dehmer said, ?Being involved with social activities is important to our health. If we don?t have a social life, we may become introverted and our mental health may suffer as we become depressed.?

Dehmer added that many people would find that accruing 20 points is easy because they?re already doing a lot of the things they?ll be asked to do to earn points. ?We just want people to think more about making other positive changes,? she said.

In addition to the wellness and financial incentive, participants? progress will be monitored by the university and end of the year results will be reported to UCA?s health insurance provider, which may assist the university in acquiring lower health insurance premiums. Dehmer said people would not have to worry about personal information being revealed because all information will be tied to their ID number (which is now a random number) and not their name.

More information about the program will be sent to employees in the coming weeks. Immediate questions should be directed to Dehmer at 450-3133.

-Jennifer Boyett