Yale cited as ‘fit-friendly' workplace even as it launches Being Well program

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A team of Yale employees — Rita Webber (foreground) and (from left) Takashi Sakurai, Ty Lanahan, Nicole Copeland, and Wayne Evangelisti — took part in the American Heart Association's National Walking Day on April 3. Their sign touted the association's next big event: the Greater New Haven HeartWalk on June 1.

The American Heart Association has recognized Yale as a gold-level “fit-friendly worksite.” The award acknowledges Yale for its commitment to providing and promoting resources for an employee “wellness culture” and encouraging healthier choices in physical activity and eating behaviors.

Currently, Yale offers walking programs and physical activity classes, weight-management and smoking-cessation programs, and Work/Life workshops to help staff and faculty balance the demands of both their professional and personal lives.

The same week that Yale received the award, the University launched Being Well at Yale, a new employee wellness initiative and website. The program provides wellness resources for the community and sponsors activities to promote employee wellness. The first two such sponsored events are the Ready, Set, Go Challenge and the Greater New Haven HeartWalk on June 1.

“Thanks to Yale’s wellness programs, hundreds of staff and faculty members have increased their physical activities and embraced other healthy behaviors. We are extremely honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Fit-Friendly Worksite,” says Lisa Kimmel, manager of Being Well at Yale.

Work-Life manager Susan Abramson agrees: “Yale has been committed to promoting the health and wellness of its employees through the various initiatives, resources, and programs that helped us achieve the Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association.”

Angelina Morais (far left) of the American Heart Association presents the award for a fit-friendly workplace to (from left) Mike Peel, vice president of Human Resources and Administration; Susan Abramson, WorkLife manager; and Lisa Kimmel, Being Well at Yale manager. (Photo by Mike Marsland)

The latest wellness initiative has already proven to be popular.

Within the first five days of the Ready, Set, Go Challenge, over 700 faculty and staff members — comprising 130 teams — have registered to participate. The initiative will begin its eight-week physical activity challenge on May 20 and is open to the first 3,000 registrants.

Once registered, participants can track steps, record exercise minutes, and take advantage of weight management tools. After the challenge is over, all participants will continue to have access to the website and can continue to pace their own physical activity, including as teams and through mini-challenges with friends.  The website synchronizes with various fitness technologies (i.e. fitbit, RunKeeper, BodyMedia).

Additionally, Being Well at Yale is the company leader for the Greater New Haven HeartWalk fundraiser on June 1. All community members are encouraged to participate, as teams or individuals, in this family-friendly and pet-friendly 3-mile walk starting at Savin Rock in West Haven. Already 61 individuals have registered, forming seven teams.

While many individual campus departments offer resources that encourage employee wellness, Being Well at Yale is the first institutional approach that spans the campus. The initiative is guided under the direction of the Wellness Leadership Group, which is comprised of representatives from Human Resources, School of Nursing, School of Public Health, Office of New Haven and State Affairs, Payne Whitney Gym, Provost’s Office, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Offfice of Sustainability, WorkLife, Yale Dining, and Yale Health.

Prior to launching Being Well at Yale, the wellness group created last year’s Get Active challenges. More than 1,300 staff and faculty members participated in the physical activity challenges — many forming over 100 teams.

“Last year’s Get Active challenges really showed us that there is a real interest and desire for such wellness programming,” Kimmel says.

“As we begin to build upon last year’s success, we hope we can help people in their progression towards healthier lifestyles and create a culture where wellness is a measure of excellence — hopefully having a little fun in while doing so.”

To read more about Being Well at Yale or the Work/Life programs, visit beingwell.yale.edu and yale.edu/worklife

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