Ready to Move IU program pairs student health coaches with university employees

Amy Hull knows she needs to be more active.

But when it comes to movement, the associate director for IU’s Office of Student Financial Assistance admits she needs a little extra encouragement to keep her on the right path.

Move IU

IU employee Bridgett Milner, left, walks with student Katherine Zukerman, middle, and IU employee Amy Hull as part of the Ready to Move IU program. | Photo by IU Communications

So when she heard about the Ready to Move IU program — which pairs employees with graduate students from the School of Public Health-Bloomington — Hull used the opportunity to get motivated and get moving.

“I am very sedate in my job and in my home life,” Hull said. “So I wanted an opportunity to have someone give me that kick in the pants to get moving and take more steps. I need to be more active, and I thought this was a good catalyst to get that going.”

Hull is one of 15 employees participating in the 10-week program. The employees are teamed with seven students from Carol Kennedy-Armbruster’s exercise leadership and counseling class who serve as health coaches.

In addition to receiving a Fitbit, the employees communicate with their student health coach regularly to set goals, discuss obstacles they may face and learn about resources through the Healthy IU program. The employee receives some resources and encouragement to get moving, while the students learn leadership and health coaching skills.

“Wellness is not just a program but a ‘culture of being well,’” Kennedy-Armbruster said. “Although this program focuses on enhancing movement and activity tracker education, we’ve learned that it also connects students with faculty/staff in a collaborative way.”

This is the sixth semester IU has hosted the Ready to Move IU program. In that time, 173 clients have been paired with 100 student coaches. Data collected from the program shows 81 percent of participants were still using their activity tracker six weeks after the program ended and 67 percent were still using it eight months after the program ended.

Surveys given to employees before and after the program also showed employees improved their confidence to reach and sustain regular physical activity/movement.

IU student Katherine Zukerman | Photo by IU Communications

IU student Katherine Zukerman | Photo by IU Communications

Katherine Zukerman, a first-year masters student in the physical activity, fitness and wellness program, serves as health coach to Hull and two other employees.

Having been a part of the program in 2014 at IUPUI, Zukerman said she enjoys the hands-on experience the class provides. She said it is also an educational opportunity in learning how to guide each client down their own path, instead of simply telling them what they should be doing.

“At the end of the day we want our clients to drive the bus and we guide them,” she said. “We don’t give them all the answers, we give them resources and education to make their own choices and set their own goals and figure out how they will accomplish them. We are that little push that helps make it a long-term behavior change.”

Change can be difficult for employees like Bridgett Milner, who spends most of her days sitting at a computer and her evenings caring for her two children.

She said the Ready to Move IU program has helped open her eyes to just how sedentary her days can be.

“I mostly do mathematical models all day,” Milner said. “So you don’t do those walking around. You do those sitting at a computer. So wearing a Fitbit made me really conscious that I get very few steps during my working day.”

Zukerman and Milner share a laugh during their walk. | Photo by IU Communications

Zukerman and Milner share a laugh during their walk. | Photo by IU Communications

One way Milner has been able to increase her steps is by being a part of Hull and Zukerman’s team. The trio, along with another employee, meet weekly for an afternoon walk where they discuss their goals and progress.

The program has not only been a learning experience for Milner, providing both accountability and resources she didn’t have before, but it allows her to take a break from the daily grind and to engage in something that is all about her.

“I think it’s great that IU offers this,” she said. “I have two small kids, so finding time outside of working hours to do things that aren’t soccer practice for my son or gymnastics for my daughter is a challenge. So the idea that I can do a program for me during the work day is pretty great.”

IU employees interested in similar programs or tips for living a healthy life can visit Healthy IU online.

Tags: , , , ,