You are here: Home > News & Events

News & Events

Liberty continues to champion local health initiatives

June 4, 2013 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Jerry Falwell, Jr., with his wife, Becki at the senior picnic they hosted on May 4. Falwell has lost 55 pounds over the past year thanks to a complete lifestyle change that includes eating healthier and regular exercise. They were recently featured in a WSET television interview.

As Liberty University continues to establish itself as a health and wellness leader in the community, it is working with local leaders and other area institutions to find more ways to encourage healthy living.

For the second year, Liberty is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to take an active role in Live Healthy Lynchburg, a campaign sponsored by the city of Lynchburg that is committed to promoting overall wellness, including diet, exercise, education, and prayer.

Liberty has volunteered to host the next Live Healthy Lynchburg meeting on its campus June 14, welcoming other colleges from around the area to share ideas and compare programs and resources to promote health and wellness in the community. Guests will tour Liberty’s extensive recreational facilities as well as learn about and sample several healthy dining options offered at Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.

“What this partnership between Liberty, Lynchburg, and other local institutions hopes to achieve is a more health-conscious culture in the community — similar to what we are seeing take place at Liberty,” said Lee Beaumont, Liberty’s vice president for Auxiliary Services. “We hope this will lead to a better quality of life in the community as people become better educated and motivated to live healthier lives.”

Many members of Liberty’s administration have led the way, including Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., who has lost 55 pounds over the past year thanks to a complete lifestyle change that includes eating healthier and regular exercise. He and his wife, Becki, work out together two days a week. They were recently featured in a WSET television interview.

Live Healthy Lynchburg is currently promoting its Strive for Five Challenge, which encourages people to work out for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Liberty is currently the leading organization with the most collective hours logged.

Last fall, more than 100 Liberty University employees took part in the Virginia 10- and 4-Miler races. Mark Hopely (No. 2002) finished third overall in the 4-Miler and logged more miles than any other individual in last year's Live Healthy Lynchburg 100 Mile Challenge.

Last fall, Liberty encouraged its staff to get out and get fit by participating in Live Healthy Lynchburg’s 100 Mile Challenge and Genworth Virginia 10-Miler and 4-Miler races. As further incentive, Liberty paid the entry fee for any staff members who signed up. The university finished third out of more than 90 companies for most miles logged in the 100 Mile Challenge. Mark Hopely, an admissions evaluator with Liberty University Online, tallied more miles than any other individual in the challenge. Liberty was also dominant in the corporate challenge, finishing first in four of the six categories in the 10- and 4-Miler events.

Liberty will encourage employees to participate in 100 Mile Challenge and the races again this year and will pay entry fees.

Across campus, Liberty has continued to show its commitment to a holistic approach to wellness — providing opportunities to grow in body, mind, and spirit.

The university offers an ample amount of spiritual development opportunities, from Bible studies to Campus Church and worship with the Campus Band. Faculty, staff, and students are immersed in a Christ-centered culture with mentorship and friendship opportunities. Liberty even has a special community for online students.

In terms of physical health and wellness, Liberty is unmatched in the region in its offerings.

Several healthy dining options are offered every day across campus, including at Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and the Tilley Fresh Market Buffet. Sodexo, Liberty’s Dining Services Provider displays signs at all of its food stations giving nutrition information. Liberty even offers meal plans for faculty and staff. For special dietary concerns, the “Simple Servings” station offers minimally processed, tasty food options prepared without gluten or seven of the eight most common food allergens: milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and wheat. Liberty was recently featured alongside Stanford University as a leader among institutions in this regard. (Read the full article, Liberty is mentioned in the “Around the college circuit” section).

The university is currently developing a community garden where students can grow fresh produce to be used in the dining hall and is building local partnerships for more fresh food options.

Sodexo recently partnered with MyFitnessPal, a free app for counting calories and monitoring diet and exercise. It also offers an array of cooking workshops and wellness seminars every semester.

To ensure all students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to stay active, Liberty has a plethora of recreational opportunities, including the LaHaye Student Union, which features a pool, basketball courts, expansive weight room and cardio area, rock climbing wall, and several rooms for group fitness classes; the Liberty Mountain Trail System, which offers 65 miles of trails spanning 5,000 acres of the university’s mountain property; Liberty Mountain Skate Park; Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre; the LaHaye Ice Center; intramural sports; as well as a number of fitness challenges throughout the year. Several of these facilities are open to the community.

Staff members are able to utilize the LaHaye Student Union workout facilities during morning hours for free. So many staff members are taking advantage of this that administration is planning to extend these hours and expand the facility.

As Liberty continues to upgrade its residential campus with a $400 million campus rebuilding, the university’s fitness and recreational offerings will be enhanced.

An artist rendering of inside the LaHaye Student Union expansion.

A massive expansion to the LaHaye Student Union will add 67,000 square feet and renovate 19,000 square feet of existing space in the university’s primary workout facility. This includes a new exercise and workout room with a greater quantity of top-notch equipment for all fitness levels. A mezzanine level with exercise equipment will face Liberty Mountain for a stunning view. This project also includes a new rock climbing wall, racquetball courts, and more multipurpose areas for exercise classes.

The university may also utilize its island property on the James River for athletic fields for both university and community use. Daniel and Treasure Islands, near downtown Lynchburg, have 81 acres of flat land.

“Many health issues facing our community are due to poor diet and lack of exercise. The best way to solve the health care crisis is for people to eat well, exercise, and take care of themselves,” Beaumont said. “Not only does this make people physically healthier, research shows they feel better, are happier, and are more productive at work and in the home. This makes them a better asset to the community.”

An artist rendering of what the LaHaye Student Union expansion would look like from outside.