Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
October 9, 1998

Wellness: it's more than health clubs and melba toast

by Anne Dolan

Satistics tell Lauri Dusselier, coordinator of ISU's Wellness Program, that 20 percent of the campus community already is committed to personal wellness programs, 20 percent have no interest in wellness and won't change their habits, and 60 percent are open to learning more and maybe even making a few changes. It's that 60 percent she's excited about.

"My job is to increase awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle," said Dusselier, who was hired last December and is ready to go with many initiatives this fall. "I'm here to be a resource, to continually support the awareness idea and to encourage small achievable goals."

For readers who assume wellness implies lettuce lunches and at least an hour a day at the track or pool, guess again. Dusselier said she takes a holistic approach to wellness. Emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, social and occupational wellness all are part of the package. Dusselier noted that something as un-physical as self-confidence often is a stronger factor in wellness than the ability to, say, jump rope for 10 minutes.

She will tell you that thin people don't necessarily live the longest, or that a regular diet of salad, bagels and diet pop may keep your fat intake down, but also might be a quick route to osteoporosis.

Iowa State, she said, is fortunate to already have centers that address some of these holistic needs, places such as training and development, the marriage and family therapy clinic, employee assistance program, women's center, physical therapy center, ISU extension, occupational medicine, the exercise clinic and recreation services.

Depending on individuals' needs, she suggests these existing services or offers her own.

Besides Dusselier, the wellness staff includes graduate students Jennifer Giesking, who's working on a master's degree in exercise physiology; and Anne Oldham, a registered dietitian who's working on a master's degree in nutrition.

Wellness profile

Since school started, about 200 employees have completed a personal wellness profile, a comprehensive assessment in which participants respond to questions about eating practices; alcohol, drug and smoking habits; physical activity; medical care; stress coping; safety habits and self perceptions about their health. It is scored by a computer, and Dusselier, Giesking or Oldham review the results with the individual. It's free and will be mailed to any employee. Call Dusselier, 4-3240, to request a wellness profile questionnaire.

Employees also can complete a fitness assessment, alone or as part of the wellness assessment. Done at the Wellness Program's office, 213 Beyer, the test measures things such as cardiovascular endurance (on a stationary bicycle), flexibility (stretching and reaching), muscular strength and endurance (push-ups and curl-ups) and, optionally, body fat.

Both assessments provide "a baseline for where you are," Dusselier said. After that, it's up to an individual to decide what's next.

"We don't tell anyone what to do," she said. "It's up to the person and what he or she wants to work on." Wellness staff do have lots of ideas for those who opt to do something, she added.

In addition to personal assessments and consultations, Wellness Program staff are available to speak to groups of employees about any related topic. Call the office, 4-3240, and make your request.

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