Coastal Health District Lives Life in the F.A.S.T. Lane

March 13, 2015

Work, children, volunteer activities and other commitments fill our time on a daily basis. It can be difficult – and seemingly impossible – to fit in healthy behaviors. And while slowing down might seem like the answer, Malisha Moses and Shauntia James-Dyson, public health students at Armstrong State University, are encouraging Coastal Health District employees to Live Life in the F.A.S.T. (Food, Activity, Stress management and Time management) Lane.

As part of the Armstrong University practicum, Moses and Dyson created the Life in the F.A.S.T. Lane worksite wellness program at the Savannah district office. Under the guidance of Coastal Health District Chronic Disease Prevention Director, Cristina Gibson, the two students developed the program in December 2014 and began implementing it in January.

District employees are invited to participate in sessions three times a week that include physical exercise, helpful nutritional information and tips on how to better manage stress and time throughout the work day and beyond.     

“We’ve really tried to think about what people need – especially when they’re at work,” said Moses. “Incorporating physical activity and stress management into the day can really help promote overall wellness.”

Coastal Health District Staff Development Training Coordinator, Pat Colson, can attest to that. She’s been attending the sessions regularly and is already applying what she’s learning to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

“At first I was a little apprehensive, but once I started going I didn’t want to miss a session,” said Colson. “There have been many positive outcomes for me. I’ve learned that you can actually exercise while sitting at your desk and how you can benefit from eating healthier snacks and meals throughout the day.”

As with any worksite health initiative, employee engagement is the most important building block to a sustainable program that incites changes in health behavior. Moses and Dyson are utilizing digital communications, experiential learning and goal setting to keep Coastal Health District employees on their feet and in tune with the messages promoted through their worksite wellness program.

A Life in the F.A.S.T. Lane e-newsletter is sent to employees weekly that curates easy-to-follow tips on everything from preparing healthy meals for the week to the importance of getting enough sleep.

To drive engagement through a little fun and friendly competition, Moses and Dyson issue challenges to participants such as completing a wellness bingo card and taking part in the StairWELL challenge that inspires employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator.

The group also recently took a Saturday morning outing to the Forsyth Park Farmer’s Market where they learned more about the importance of cooking with and eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

Participants in the worksite wellness program are also encouraged to set realistic goals and track their progress – something Colson said has helped her become more active.

“I was struggling with the exercise portion at the beginning of the program, but I’ve been building up stamina and now look forward to it,” she said. “Around 2 p.m. in the afternoon, most people need a pick-me-up, and for me, it’s our wellness session. Shauntia and Malisha are so knowledgeable and well prepared because they truly believe in what they are doing.  They have caused several of us to really buy into wellness. ”

Dyson said that helping people like Colson realize how they can live healthier lifestyles has been the most rewarding part of the experience.

“Our participants changed some of their nutritional habits and are exercising more regularly which is good to see,” she said. “People have really been positive and are making strides towards attaining their health goals.”

Though both Moses and Dyson will graduate in May, they hope to leave a lasting impact by training a Coastal Health District employee to continue the worksite wellness program after they’re gone.

“We feel like we’ve made a difference, but we want the group to keep making progress,” said Moses. “We all lead busy lives, but taking care of our bodies and minds must be a priority.”

Visit www.gachd.org to learn more about the Coastal Health District’s health and wellness programs.

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