The University of Alabama’s Nancy Whittaker understands the importance of balancing the chaos and stress that accompanies a job with the benefits of exercise and movement.
“When you exercise it reduces stress, it makes you feel better and it helps you cope with things throughout the day,” said UA’s Associate Vice President of Human Resources. “It helps with your overall well-being and how you perform your job. It makes you feel better coming into work knowing you have a way to relieve stress.”
Whittaker does this through early morning workouts at the UA Rec Center, as well as using her Fitbit, which she purchased through the UA Wellness Fitbit Program.
The program gives full-time, benefits eligible UA employees the opportunity to purchase Fitbit devices at reduced rates and to participate in campuswide wellness challenges. Once a device is purchased and set up online, employees will be prompted to join the ‘UA System Fitbit Program’ and all their activity will sync automatically with the UA Wellness program.
Ongoing Fitbit wellness programs will count as Qualifying WellBAMA Rewards programs once completed.
Employees are also allowed to purchase multiple devices for family members, and family members can participate in the UA Fitbit Challenges. Whittaker purchased one for her 10-year-old grandson who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he has been highly competitive.
“He keeps asking how many steps I have and when I tell him, if he’s behind he’ll take lots more steps so he can beat me,” she said.
While exercise can be done without a Fitbit, the device encourages movement, makes people more cognizant of their movements and provides vital information, like heart rate, sleep patterns and steps taken during a day, Whittaker said.
The Fitbit Challenges add some fun to the mix and are quite successful in building camaraderie among employees, as well as a bit of healthy competition.
“It’s a challenge and we’re competing against each other, but we’re also competing for the same thing — more movement for a healthier body and mind,” Whittaker said. “It’s a great program. It shows that the University really does care about them. Even the President’s Office is involved in the challenges.”
And having supervisors and administrators set that example for their employees is key, she added.
“It helps your employees perform better at their jobs,” Whittaker said. “They know I care about their personal well-being, and when they know you care enough about them to allow them time to walk around the Quad or do something they need to do for their well-being, it just improves relationships all the way around.”
For more information on the UA Wellness Fitbit Program, visit http://wellness.ua.edu/fitbit.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.