Healthy You Prepares for Year Three
Organizers of “HEALTHY YOU,” Boston College’s employee health and wellness initiative, are preparing for another academic year of events and activities, fortified by a solid two-year track record of success.
Launched in the fall of 2010, HEALTHY YOU emphasizes individual choice and responsibility through a voluntary program that focuses on wellness. It includes a range of resources to help faculty and staff avoid the risks that lead to an illness or ongoing health issue, and to improve management of a chronic illness.
Organizers say they are impressed by the University community’s response to HEALTHY YOU, and the outcome of its participation in the initiative: Many BC employees and their spouses have taken part in HEALTHY YOU programs, and are having positive experiences.
“As we begin our third year of the HEALTHY YOU initiative we are very pleased with the feedback we have received,” said Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert Lewis. “A number of employees have told us that this program has made a difference for them and they are feeling healthier as a result. Most of the difference is just from employees taking small steps, but these small steps add up.”
One of the most popular HEALTHY YOU programs is the “Know Your Numbers” campaign that encourages employees and their spouses to find out or update important health indicators such as height, weight, blood pressure, overall and HDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels. HEALTHY YOU also sponsors biometric screenings on campus during the year that provide opportunities to obtain these numbers and fill out a confidential health questionnaire (HQ). With information from the HQ as a guide, employees and spouses can arrange to make a health and fitness plan with a Harvard Pilgrim health coach.
Although there was a slight drop-off in employees and spouses filling out HQs from 2011 to 2012 — 2,028 to 1,759 — organizers say they are nonetheless pleased by the overall level of participation. They note, for example, that almost 65 percent of participants took the HQ both years.
Organizers also are encouraged by the number of employees and spouses, 684, who made a plan with a health coach between January and July this year. “The emphasis this past year was to make employees and spouses aware of Harvard Pilgrim’s health care coaching recourses and the feedback we received from those making a plan with a health care coach has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Lewis. “Health care coaching continues to be a resource available to BC’s Harvard Pilgrim members free of charge.”
Another cause for optimism, organizers say, is the University’s average “wellness score,” 88.1, an indicator for a given population’s state of health derived from mortality risks based on age and gender, modifiable health risks (such as smoking, physical activity and weight) and preventive service compliance. BC’s score is above the national average wellness scores as compiled by Harvard Pilgrim (87.4) and the University of Michigan (85.3), and is close to the ideal figure of 90.
This semester’s full slate of HEALTHY YOU events, activities and programs will be announced shortly, but Lewis says there is already an indication of the BC community’s zeal for health and fitness. BC’s Recreational Complex has teamed up with HEALTHY YOU to enhance the annual “Walk Across Campus” challenge, a two-month long event which encourages employees to make a point of being physically active in their daily lives. “So far approximately 50 teams with some 800 participants have signed up for the ‘Walk.’ The response has been fantastic and ‘Walk’ has already achieved its maximum participation for the semester.”
See the HEALTHY YOU website at www.bc.edu/healthy-you for more information.