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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Wellness Challenge motivates health-conscious individuals

Had a New Year’s resolution but feel like it’s already losing steam?

The fourth annual Mind Body Wellness Challenge, sponsored by the UC Davis Retiree Center, aims to re-motivate these individuals by inviting them to adopt a new healthy habit and keep it up for seven weeks.

“The Challenge starts in late January because by that time most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions,” said Sue Barnes, manager at the Retiree Center and director of the Mind Body Wellness Challenge. “The idea is to choose a healthy habit to work into your daily routine, and focus on keeping that habit until the end of the quarter.”

If kept up for seven weeks, Barnes says, the healthy habit is more likely to stick after the Challenge ends and become a long-term lifestyle improvement.

“We picked what we thought was a reasonable time period to establish a healthy habit and one that was convenient for students,” Barnes said. “It will run up until finals week. But hopefully the habit will stick well after the challenge is over.”

Challenge participants can choose a particular habit to integrate into their routine from one of the areas on the wellness wheel, which breaks down general wellness into seven dimensions: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental and occupational.

“We want to emphasize that health and wellness is more than just physical fitness,” Barnes said.

For example, if one wanted to improve one’s intellectual wellness, the Challenge developers suggest learning a challenging skill or attending a lecture other than those required for class. If social wellness is the area of concern, participants could commit to calling friends or family located far away more often or becoming more involved in a club or organization.

Pam Nardinelli, UC Davis staff assembly coordinator, acknowledged that even though the winter weather might make it hard to get out and be active, establishing a healthy habit when it is inconvenient to could further the long-term benefits of the Challenge.

“Starting now means [the Challenge will end in the springtime],” Nardinelli said in an e-mail interview. “When it is over, the weather will be nice so it will be easier to stay committed.”

Barnes, who is also a manager at the UC Davis Retiree center, aims to promote healthy habits starting at a young age because people won’t realize how those habits will affect their ability to lead an active lifestyle as they get older.

“Most chronic illnesses take 30 to 40 years to develop, so the habits that you have in your 20s and 30s will definitely affect you in later life,” Barnes said.

Fatima Falman, senior history and political science double major and student assistant at the Retiree Center, says she will definitely be participating in the Challenge this year.

“I will be implementing walking at least one mile every day,” Falman said in an e-mail interview. “I think this Challenge will appeal to a wide pool of participants because it hits home for everyone; it does not just focus on one aspect of health. Everyone can improve in at least one of [the seven] aspects, if not all of them.”

To track their progress, participants can detach a small calendar on the bottom of the registration form that has a check box for each day that they complete their healthy activity.

“But we do know that, realistically, people aren’t going to be perfect with it,” Barnes said. “So we say someone has completed the Challenge if they keep up their healthy habit for 80 percent of the days.”

Three hundred people are currently signed up for the Challenge. As it is open to everybody in the Davis and surrounding communities, around a thousand people are expected to attend.

“It’s easy to register and requires only your desire to make a change in your life,” Nardinelli said.

Register for the Wellness Challenge at wellnesschallenge.ucdavis.edu.

LANI CHAN can be reached at features@theaggie.com.

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