Mississippi State's ongoing work to promote healthy lifestyles has been recognized by a leading national advocacy organization.
The American Heart Association has designated MSU a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite based on the university's wide range of fit-friendly opportunities for employees that have helped to create a "culture of wellness" on campus, according to the AHA.
"Faculty and staff at Mississippi State are increasingly committed to regular exercise, healthy diets and wellness benefits that complement traditional health care coverage," said Judy Spencer, the land-grant institution's chief human resources officer.
"We are pleased that the American Heart Association has recognized this commitment, as well as the many programs in place that support overall fitness," she said.
MSU HRM provides a monthly wellness newsletter from the State of Mississippi's health plan medical management vendor that faculty and staff may access online, as well as a monthly employee assistance newsletter that includes health-related information, Spencer noted.
Kim Thomas, MSU's associate director for benefits and data services, led the effort to achieve the AHA Fit-Friendly designation.
HRM's efforts are part of a larger initiative involving units throughout the university and local community.
Most recently, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation awarded MSU a $250,000 grant to establish the MSU Health Fitness and Wellness Program to be administered through the university's kinesiology department to promote fitness, nutrition, smoking cessation, stress management and behavioral change strategies.
Ben Abadie, professor of kinesiology and one of three co-principal investigators for the grant, said the one-year program will begin in August of this year and targets the MSU and Starkville Public School community, as well as the general Starkville community.
Joyce Yates, MSU director of health education and wellness, said the university has been building on a culture that embraces healthy lifestyles over the past several years. A recently completed grant also by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation last year allowed for a new university walking track around Chadwick Lake adjacent to the Sanderson Center.
"This gives MSU another opportunity to partner with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to offer initiatives that create a healthier college community," Yates said.
Diane Tidwell, associate professor of food science, nutrition, and health promotion, is chairing a new university health and wellness committee. Tidwell said the committee is charged with providing a framework for improving the health status of the MSU community through collaborative efforts of health, academics, student affairs and administration to foster healthy environments and behaviors.