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Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthier U

Healthieru run group
Healthieru run group
Healthier U director Cathrine Duffy (foreground) and other participants in the Couch to 5K running program.

Yoga, meditation, nature walks, swimming, even mindful drawing. All of these types of activities can help improve your mood, your physical and emotional wellbeing, and your overall quality of life, said Cathrine Duffy, director of Healthier U, the university’s program wellness program for employees.

That’s why Duffy, Healthier U and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) she also runs are ramping up plans to help employees manage stress and improve their overall outlook in May (National Mental Health Awareness Month) and beyond.

“The mind-body connection is a powerful thing,” Duffy said. “Relaxing or ‘coming home’ to your body. And people may not realize how even small steps toward moving your body, taking breaks from stressful situations or intensive work, and being mindful of your stressors can make a huge difference in their overall health and wellbeing.”

Planned programming takes this all into account and can be found on the Healthier U Programs website page.

“Resilience at the Brook” is another resource available for healthcare workers on East Campus. It’s a permanent respite room — a peaceful area featuring plants, calming wall art, privacy areas, and materials on meditation and relaxation. It was created at the height of the pandemic but continues to rejuvenate employees.

Getting Things Up and Running

Healthier U launched its first “Couch to 5K” training program this spring as a way for employees to blow off steam and get some exercise. The six-week training program is intended to ease runners into the 3.2-mile distance without injury and while keeping motivation strong. Several runners have already completed their first 5K — a race dedicated to eradicating stigma surrounding mental illness. Chi-Yong Won, executive assistant in the Office of the President, was one of the triumphant runners.

“Training for the first ever 5K at first was a little scary — but having someone to train with you, I began to look forward to the run,” said Won. “Healthier U provided a very reasonable and completely doable training plan in the Couch to 5k program and I would encourage all to try! After a run, I felt for energized and looked forward to the next training day. I can’t wait to sign up for my next 5k race!”

Another participant was Tasheka Sutton-Young, assistant vice president for presidential initiatives, Office of the President. “Running a 5k has been on my bucket list and the Healthier U Couch to 5k program gave me a way to fulfill this goal,” she said. “My word for the year is discipline in all aspects of my life for 2023, and it took discipline to follow the program from start to finish in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of completing the 5K! For me, crossing the finish line was self affirmation that I can do anything!”

Healthier U will be hosting another Couch to 5K program in the fall.

— Ellen Cooke

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