Health and wellness involve more than just being physically fit. Especially during exams, students’ mental health is just as important. With this in mind, the University of Cincinnati’s campus recreation department offers students a number of relaxation, fitness and nutrition services to help both students’ bodies, and their minds, stay healthy.
“We feel that students experience so much stress adjusting to school, being away from home, social pressures and other pressures related to their academic performance, that there really needed to be an outlet on campus for students to relieve stress,” explained Brandi Hester, the assistant director of fitness and wellness for the University of Cincinnati’s campus recreation department. “From yoga to massage, we try to present our members and the community with options for achieving maximum wellness in multiple aspects, not just physical fitness.”
For example, by meeting with one of the campus’ registered dietitians or nutritionists, students can learn how to make healthy eating choices, something that may be new to freshman who have struck out on their own for the first time.
“We feel there is a significant need among students to be educated, as for many, the college experience is the first time a student may be solely responsible for planning his or her meals,” explained Hester. “For so many new students, the beginning of college is the first time they will be shopping, preparing and cooking their own meals, or perhaps making food choices in our buffet-style dining halls.”
In addition to boasting nutrition experts, the recreation department also offers metabolic testing, customized meal plans, dining hall tours and personal grocery shopping experiences.
Hester explained the services have been well received by students and that the numbers speak for themselves. “Our nutrition coaching program alone has grown more than 400 percent in the last five years,” she said. “Of course, we always run into the challenge of communicating our offerings to the students, but this is something we plan to improve upon each year.”
The campus recreation department also offers yoga, massage, “smart start” sessions and personal training. According to Hester, the goal is to provide students with an all-encompassing approach towards student health. “We really do think of ourselves as someone’s total wellness team, helping them step by step to achieve their goal,” she said. “We try to balance just the right variety of programming to eliminate intimidation, but also meet as many needs as we can.”
For example, Hester explained the best results are often a combination of pairing nutrition services with personal training. “In result, we have created the popular Total Wellness package for our guests, which includes personal training, nutrition coaching and the resting metabolic testing.”
The University of Cincinnati’s approach of viewing health and wellness through a total health scope has paid off. The recreation center averages about 3,500 visits per day, most of which are students. “We have grown tremendously since opening in 2006,” said Hester. “We are continually striving to improve our programs and services to meet the needs and demands of both students, faculty and staff of the University of Cincinnati community.”