August 4, 2011

School of Nursing wellness program takes to the stairs

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VUSN’s Pammy Doss, left, and Debbie Hill take the stairs in Godchaux Hall as part of the school’s StarWellness program. (photo by Carla Beals)

School of Nursing wellness program takes to the stairs

The stairwells at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing are seeing a lot more traffic this summer thanks to a StairWellness Program developed by the school and Health Plus.

The VUSN StairWellness program was initiated by Carla Beals, graphics manager at VUSN, and Betsey Usher, a program manager, who were inspired after hearing Mayor Karl Dean speak at a Health Plus event, where he encouraged Nashvillians to make the community healthier.

Beals and Usher connected with Health Plus’s Stacey Kendrick, to develop something for faculty and staff.

“Being healthy doesn’t need to mean training for a marathon,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., CNM, dean of VUSN. “It can be small, yet significant, ways to get up and move during a typical work day. “That’s the message we want to share with everyone. It can even be fun.”

Each Monday, participating faculty and staff members pick up a palm-size scorecard to keep track of how many days a week they take the stairs.
Those who take the stairs four days out of the week are eligible for a weekly prize drawing.

Each week the participants receive a motivational e-mail message with fitness facts, resources and the name of the previous week’s prize winner.

“Our planning group wanted this to be an awareness campaign,” said Stacey Kendrick, M.S., health promotion coordinator for Health Plus. “We all know that physical activity is important for our health, but it’s a challenge to find ways to fit exercise into busy lifestyles.

“Incorporating exercise into our normal day — by walking or taking the stairs — can make a difference.

“Many people feel liberated to learn that they can break up their daily exercise in 10 minute sessions to achieve the 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Kendrick said.

All participating VUSN employees can track their steps with free pedometers provided by Health Plus, and for those who need a little more motivation, there are posters displayed outside elevator stops and signage throughout Godchaux and Frist Halls.

The VUSN StairWellness Program started in June and ends in late August – giving people time to adjust to changing their behavior in favor of taking the elevator rather than the stairs.

Organizers will compare pre- and post-surveys to evaluate the program, with the possibility of eventually spreading the initiative throughout the Medical Center.