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Year of Healthy U Offers Paths to Wellness

  • Department of Health and Physical Activity

To say that Elizabeth Bina approaches health seriously may be an understatement.

A senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying biological sciences with an interest in public health, Bina works at Student Health Service as a PantherWELL peer health educator, helping other students achieve optimum health. She also “walks the walk” by participating in campus fitness classes, including cycling, fitness dance, kettlebell and Zumba.

Visit the Year of Healthy U website for more information, including a schedule of events.

During the University’s Year of Healthy U, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to mirror Bina’s behaviors by considering how to improve their own health and the health of the entire Pitt community.

The fourth installment in the Office of the Provost’s “Year Of” series, the Year of Healthy U will address issues such as improving activity levels, increasing flu shot rates and reducing smoking in the University community, according to Anthony Delitto. Delitto is the chair of the year’s steering committee and dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

In announcing the initiative, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson said, “It is my hope that the Year of Healthy U will advance our understanding of health in all its forms and renew our commitment to fostering a healthy community.”

To Bina, a member of the steering committee, all of those forms include the eight dimensions of wellness recognized by the Division of Student AffairsHealthy U program: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.

“Healthy U goes beyond traditional views of health pertaining only to nutrition and exercise,” said Bina. “Rather, it’s important to provide resources and programming to support each dimension of health.”

The bottom line is with improved health, the University of Pittsburgh becomes a much more productive and efficient operation.

Anthony Delitto, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Members of the University community can receive up to $5,000 in matching funds from the provost’s office for proposals for Year of Healthy U programming. Delitto noted that more than 30 proposals have been submitted.

According to Delitto, the Year of Healthy U initiative is sorely needed by the Pitt community.

“I don’t know that many in the University community see the University’s health as being inextricably linked to each individual’s health,” said Delitto. “Healthier employees have less stress, fatigue, work-related injuries, absenteeism and the like. The bottom line is with improved health, the University of Pittsburgh becomes a much more productive and efficient operation.”

Delitto said that he hopes the Year of Healthy U serves as a repository for existing initiatives and programming at the University and UPMC Health Plan.

Among that programming are fitness classes at Bellefield Hall, the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center, Trees Hall and the University Club for faculty, staff and students. The classes are designed by the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, which is led by John Jakicic, a member of the Year of Healthy U’s steering committee.

“The University of Pittsburgh community — and the broader community of Western Pennsylvania — is fortunate to have a world-class medical center in our community to provide care when we experience health problems. However, despite this, we have high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and other health conditions,” said Jakicic.

“Thus, there is a need to enhance efforts to translate this outstanding care to prevention efforts broadly within our community,” he added.

Health and fitness can be mistaken for outcomes as opposed to an ongoing process, said Jakicic. The year, he said, will focus on how to engage the Pitt community to begin that process and commit to health and fitness even after the year’s conclusion.