October highlights healthy habits

Accounting instructor Darrell Herauf clips on his pedometer in preparation for the Healthy Workplace Pedometer Challenge. (Susan Hickman Photo)

Sure, being fit and eating well are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s bigger than that, especially when you add in stress, mental health issues and work-life balance challenges.

And that’s where Carleton’s Healthy Workplace initiative comes in. The program was set up three years ago to make Carleton University’s campus a healthy place to work and it is in the spotlight as October rolls in as Healthy Workplace Month.

The Healthy Workplace Committee and the Healthy Workplace Champions, comprising a diverse cross-section of staff and faculty, are leading the way to adopt a healthier workplace at Carleton by focusing on three elements:

• health and lifestyle practices

• workplace culture and supportive environment

• physical environment and occupational health and safety

“We are working on a communications plan this month,” says co-ordinator Kristi Wells, “to make sure everyone understands the elements of a healthy workplace.”

The plan includes a Facebook launch and a wide social media sweep, including Twitter, LinkedIn and a healthy lifestyle blog.

The month begins with a pedometer challenge, setting a goal of 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day throughout October.

A Wellness Fair is scheduled for Oct.16, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Porter Hall on the second floor of University Centre. Exhibitors and interactive booths include Wii Fit games, blood typing, strength-training demonstrations, a registered dietician, and displays by such organizations as Family Services Ottawa, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Arthritis Society.

Lunch-hour presentations include, on Oct. 23, coach Jeff Edwards of MakeWell Coaching on work-life balance and, on Oct. 30, registered dietitian Cindy Sass on the top 10 everyday healthy foods. On Oct. 25, Healthy Workplace hosts and sponsors the full-day Building Healthier Workplaces Conference in the Residence Commons Conference Room.

Carleton’s Healthy Workplace has also partnered with the national organization Excellence Canada, a non-profit national authority on quality and healthy workplace practices. Excellence Canada has a uniquely Canadian model that provides measureable standards for Canadian organizations. Carleton has already achieved Excellence Canada’s first certification level and is driving towards the second level as it determines campus employees’ needs and specific barriers to health.

“We know from (Carleton business professor) Linda Duxbury’s research that people stay in their jobs if they have a healthy relationship with their manager,” says Wells. “

“We would like to help educate managers and employees alike on how to support a healthy workplace. A goal of the initiative is to create an organizational culture in which healthy workplace workshops and initiatives are viewed in the same light as a professional development opportunity. So, as an employee would be granted time to attend a training course, they would also be given time to attend a healthy workplace-related workshop.”

Carleton’s Healthy Workplace program offers a plethora of activities that are critical elements to a healthy workplace, Wells notes. WeightWatchers runs programs, photography classes are available and inspirational challenges such as the pedometer challenge are offered on a regular basis. Staff and faculty can join a Tai Chi class on the banks of the Rideau River, get involved with a dodge ball league, drop in on a co-ed pick-up style soccer game or sign up for the Healthy Workplace fall hockey program. All programs are free, except the hockey, which charges a $10 pay-as-you-play fee per game.

For more information about the Healthy Workplace initiative, visit: www.carleton.ca/healthy-workplace.

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Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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