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Release: Immediate

UI employees can win prizes by participating in Wellness Challenge

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As the semester winds to a close, a two-week Wellness Challenge from May 1-14 will reward participating employees of the University of Iowa with the opportunity to win prizes and improve their overall well-being.

Acceptable wellness activities such as taking a walk, having your blood pressure checked, drinking six to eight glasses of water in a day, or even writing a letter to a friend will each earn a point. Employees who earn 15 total points during the Wellness Challenge and complete and return their activity card will be eligible for prizes. Books and local book stores' gift certificates, health club trial memberships, a therapeutic massage, aerobics class passes, and tickets to a jazz concert at Hancher are among the prizes.

The Wellness Challenge is being sponsored by the UI Office of Human Resources in partnership with UI Health Works, an affiliate of the University of Iowa Health System.

Robert Foldesi, associate vice president for human resources, advocates strong faculty and staff participation in the university's wellness programs. "We try to create a supportive environment through building community and enhancing the quality of work life at the UI," he said. "We support the 'whole person' concept, which includes employees' professional growth as well as health and wellness."

On National Employee Health and Fitness Day, May 20, a reception will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the North Room of the Iowa Memorial Union to recognize the volunteer efforts of the Wellness Ambassadors.

The university-wide effort to improve health and fitness also includes a series of nutrition seminars and a poster campaign through which Snack Wise posters have been placed in campus vending areas to inform consumers about calorie and fat content of their favorite snacks.

"We hope to promote balanced eating," said Joni Troester, health promotion coordinator in Family Medicine. "The posters encourage better food choices that you can make throughout the day."

"We hope many university faculty and staff members participate in these programs," Troester added. "Wellness activities are easy to incorporate into your daily routines. With a little effort, the benefits can be great."